1. The Unspeakable Gift
"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." II Corinthians 9:15
We have come through another Christmas season, sharing gifts with family and friends. Giving and receiving gifts is one of the ways we show people our love. Christmas reminds us of the unspeakable gift of our God. Long ago, on that first Christmas Day, God sent His Son to be born of a virgin. The King of kings was not born in a palace, but He was the precious Lamb born in a stable. This Lamb, came to become our sacrifice. This is part of our Christmas story... "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) This is the greatest gift of all time. "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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:16-17) "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) God gave His Son to die for you. Have you received this wonderful gift? Salvation is as easy as A, B, C. Admit that you are a sinner. Believe that the Lord died to pay for your sins. Confess your sins to God and bow your heart to make Him Lord of your life. That's the greatest gift you will ever receive.
2. The Gift Of The Holy Ghost
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38
We began our devotions on gifts with the Greatest Gift, the gift of salvation. God gave His only Son, Jesus, to be our sacrifice and Savior. After we see our lost, sinful condition, we can repent and believe and accept God's free gift of eternal life. Peter tells us in our verse above, that once we are saved, we also "receive the gift of the Holy Ghost". This was a promise of Jesus before He died. "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you... These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:16-18 & 25-26) We serve a living God, and we have the gift of the Holy Ghost living within us. We can feel the presence of God in our lives as we read His Word, and talk with Him, and seek His will for our lives. This separates Christianity from all other religions. We serve a living God who loves us and comforts us in our daily walk with Him.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
This verse follows the verses above, about the gift of the Holy Ghost. With the presence of the Comforter, we have peace. We see this peace in Philippians 4:7, "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." We also saw this peace in our Christmas story last week. The angels proclaimed to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14) I am truly thankful for God's gift of peace. We live in troubled times with wars and conflict on every side. We go through storms and trials in our own lives. But, God can give us peace in our heart as He goes with us through the storms of life. I don't think I could lay down and sleep at night without the peace of God in my heart. I can say with David in Psalm 4:8, "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety."
4. Every Good Gift
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17
I received some really nice gifts this Christmas. I can look back through the years and remember gifts that left a lasting memory of joy in my life. I thank God for His unspeakable gift of salvation. He has been so good to me through the years. He allowed me to be born and raised in a Christian home. He reached down and saved me as a child. He gave me a wonderful Christian husband and five healthy children, daughters in law, and grandchildren. I have a home with heat in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer. Some twenty years ago He led me to Pine Grove Baptist Church where He has allowed us to serve Him. I could not even begin to make a list of all the wonderful gifts God gives to me each day. As we begin the New Year, let's take time to recognize that all these wonderful gifts come from God and say with David in Psalm 13:6, "I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me."
5. The Gift Of Love
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” I John 3:1-2
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
We began with the gift of salvation. We know how to be saved. We believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and confess our sins to Him. We know when to be saved, as we are told in II Corinthians 6:2, "... behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." We know the who of salvation, for we know that Jesus is the one and only way. We also know who can be saved, "...whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) The one thing we can't understand is the why. Why would God give His only Son to die a painful, cruel death on the cross to save you and me? Why would Jesus lay down His life freely to save me? The only explanation is that God loves us. The Lord gave us a gift of love that is everlasting. As we continue reading of God's gifts to us, we will see that they all come because of His great love.
6. The Gift Of A New Day And A New Year
Happy New Year!
“This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Happy New Year! The Lord has given us the gift of a new day! He brought us through the night, and the morning sun has risen once again. He has also brought us through another year. A new day and a New Year. When I was a young girl, the year 2000 seemed so far away, and now we are entering the year 2009. We would do well to see each day as a gift from God and be thankful. There are many ways to make the most of your day. Begin each day in prayer and ask the Lord to walk with you and guide you through the day. Rejoice and be glad as we read in our verse above. Look for ways to share God's love with those around you. Don't waste God's precious gift of this new day.
7. The Gift Of Joy
“Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” I Peter 1:5-8
Sometimes we have trials and storms in our lives and the nights may be long and dreary. but we can say with David, "...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning". (Psalm 30:5) We talked about God's greatest gift of love shown in His plan of salvation. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit and peace in our hearts. God can also give us "joy unspeakable and full of glory". We saw in Psalm 118:24, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Maybe you are going through storms and don't feel the joy. Pray with David in Psalm 51:12, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit." Look deep into your heart and remember the joy of salvation. If you have no other reason to have joy, you can rejoice that you have been given everlasting life with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
8. The Gift Of A Heavenly Home
“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. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Luke 2:40
When Mike and I got married 30 years ago, we had to find a place to live. We went from house to house, to find a place to call home. We rented for a while, until we could afford to buy a small house. This was what we expected, since we didn't have any "rich uncles" to buy us a house. The book of Revelation tells us how we are the bride of Christ and one day, the Lord will return from heaven and call us up to meet Him in the air. Before He left He told the disciples that He is going to prepare a place for us. He has many mansions, and I don't even have to make a downpayment. Not only has He prepared a place for me, He has made all the preparations and arrangements for me to go there. He is "the way, the truth, and the life". He is the only way to gain eternal life. All we have to do is accept the invitation. Are you headed for heaven? Trust in the Lord to save you and give you eternal life, and you can enjoy the glories of heaven throughout eternity with Christ.
9. The Gift Of The Church
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:42-47
The book of Acts gives us the history of the church. There were many aspects of that early church that we should strive to have in our churches today. The people had a continual yearning to hear the gospel preached and to worship together. We can tell by our scriptures that the early Christians enjoyed fellowship and meals together. There was unity, and they lifted each other up and gave of their abundance to others. The world noticed, as we see in our verse above... "And fear came upon every soul..." We also see the end result of their prayers, worship, and service in verse 47. "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." I love my church and if you are in the central part of North Carolina I would love for you to visit Pine Grove Baptist Church, in Archdale, NC. I am thankful for my church. I want to serve the Lord and see God add to my church, "such as should be saved". God gave us the church. What can we give back to the Lord in 2009?
10. The Gift Of God's Word
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
Sometimes we buy new products and an instruction manual comes with it. The manual may tell us how to put the item together. It may tell us the proper use of the product or possible dangers associated with the item. God has given us His Holy written Word and we can read it as an instruction manual for life. God's Word is a lamp and a light so that we can see the way to go. He gives us instructions on how to live and warns us of the dangers of sin. Most of all, He tells us how to be saved and have eternal life. Just as some people refuse to read product manuals, there are those who don't care to read God's Word. There is so much more to life than going about haphazardly from day to day. God can give us direction for our daily lives. His Word never changes. In this same chapter we read, "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89) Verse 50 reminds us that we find comfort in God's Word and verse 103 tells us He Word is sweeter than honey. Verse 140 tells us that His Word is pure. Verse 160 tells us, "Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever." As we begin a New Year, let's strive to spend a little more time in God's Word each day. "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day." (Psalm 119:97)
11. The Gift Of Wisdom
“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:1-6
I began reading the book of Proverbs this morning and as I was reading this chapter I knew that this was meant to be my verse for today. "For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding." Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are gifts from God. He tells us that right here in this verse. These verses were written by the wisest man that ever lived, King Solomon. And do you remember how he got his wisdom? He asked God for wisdom. Sometimes I do something and I think, "That was really dumb." I don't like making foolish mistakes. How can I have more wisdom? Ask God in faith. In James 1:5 & 6 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. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." God gives wisdom and this is one gift that we are told to ask for.
12. God Gives Us Strength
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
"The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace." Psalm 29:11
I often find myself weary and weak. Our physical bodies get tired. Our minds grow weary. What can we do in these troubled times? Trust in the Lord. Call on the Lord for strength. Wait on the Lord. "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31) Are you weary? Turn to the Lord. When troubles arise, turn to Psalm 46:1, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." When sadness comes, remember the words of Nehemiah, "...the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10) The verses above are good memory verses. Let's read them once again...
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
"The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace." Psalm 29:11
13. God Gives The Increase
“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” I Corinthians 3:6-8
My son gave me a Wii Fit for my birthday last summer and I have really had fun with it. I like it because I can work at my own pace and in the privacy of my home. I can tell that the exercises have given me strength and endurance. I began working this week on trying to do the push-ups. My arms are a little sore and I was wondering last night when I went to bed how long it would take for me to build enough strength to do the 6 push-up repititions. Then my mind went to the devotions I had just typed on strength. We build strength by working and exercising. We can build spiritual strength by exercising our faith in God. As I thought about the other gifts of God, I realized that we can work on these things and God can give the increase in those areas of our lives also. We are to work at sowing the seed, and God will give the increase. We can manifest the Christian works in our churches as we see in the early church, and God can build our churches. We saw how God wants us to pray for wisdom. We begin learning as a small child and each new seed of understanding builds on the one before. When we rejoice, God gives us greater joy. As we continue our study of gifts, let's see how we can work and labor for the Lord and watch these gifts unfold into even greater spiritual blessings in our lives.
14. God's Gift of Help
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”
Psalm 121:1, 2
Have you ever tried to help a five year old tie his shoes when he wanted to tie his own shoes? Or do you know what it's like to try to help a two year old who wants to hold her own spoon? We are born helpless into this world. As we grow, we learn to do things for ourselves and don't need as much help from our parents. The natural course in life is for us to eventually become self-sufficient and our role changes in that we learn to help others. When we are new-born Christians we humble ourselves to God and realize that we need God's help. As we grow in Christ, we often begin to depend on God less and less as we feel we can make it on our own. We find ourselves in trouble and wonder why God isn't helping us. We have the promises from His Word that He is our help. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1) Just as we let a five year old struggle with his shoe strings, God may let us struggle with our problems until we reach the point that we want His help. We are supposed to grow in Christ, but we should not get to the place that we don't need God. The church of Laodicea in Revelations 3 is a sad example of where many of us are today. "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things said the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anount thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." (Rev. 3:14-18) God is waiting to help you...if you will just let Him.
15. God Gives A New Song
"I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD." Psalm 40:1-3
"O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth. Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day." Psalm 96:1-2
I was recently in a waiting room and a woman was holding a little baby that began to get fussy and then cry. The woman stood and gently rocked the baby in her arms as she walked around the room and sang softly, "Jesus loves me this I know, For the Bible tells me so..." I smiled as the baby settled sweetly in her arms and I remembered the countless times I sang that precious song to my children and granddaughter. I learned of Jesus' great love as a child, just as I learned the words to that simple, wonderful song, "Jesus Loves Me". God gives us songs of praise to worship Him. He gives us songs to remind us of His love and care. He gives us musical talents to be witneses for Him. The woman in the waiting room sang to calm her small child, and she may not have thought about how her song was a witness to others waiting there. Does the world know you are a Christian by the music in your heart and soul? When you stop and consider all the wonders God has done for you, it will put a new song in your heart.
16. God Gives Us Promises
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)" Hebrews 10:23
We read many promises of God in the Bible. Every time we see a rainbow we are reminded of God’s promise that He will never destroy the earth with water again. We have faith that God will keep His promises. We have faith to believe unto salvation. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is an amazing, wonderful promise. Another promise that gives us comfort is in Matthew 28:20, “…lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Jesus has promised to be with us always. Again in Hebrews 13:5 & 6, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” But not all the promises are positive. We are warned in Numbers 32:23, “…be sure your sin will find you out.” Galatians 6:7 tells us, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” We may make promises to others with all intentions of keeping them, only to have circumstances beyond our control get in the way. But God will keep all His promises. ..."He is faithful that promised."
17. God Gives Us What We Need
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
This may be the most quoted of God's promises that I see and hear. In our troubled times there are many clinging to this promise. I think we need to look at verse 18 for the context of this promise. "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." These believers at Philippi had sent offerings to Paul, perhaps sacrificially of their own belongings, to help provide of God's messenger. God will supply our need, just as He promised, but we are also to give our tithes and offerings back to God's work. Remember the words of our Lord... "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?... And why take thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? ...for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:25-33)
18. The Desires Of Thine Heart
“Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:3-5
"Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." My daughter-in-law has this verse as a message on her phone. This is another wonderful promise of God's goodness in His giving. God gave us salvation, and we could spend the rest of our days thanking Him for that greatest gift. We have mentioned other gifts from God, such as a home in heaven, and daily provisions of food and clothing. God is such a loving Father. He often goes beyond our basic needs, and gives us many of the desires of our heart. He does not always give us the things we want immediately. Annie has been praying for a job since she graduated last June. She has been seeking God's will for her life and trusting in Him to lead her. Today she will start her first day on a new job. Don't give up in your prayers. Just keep on trusting the Lord and thank Him for all the wonderful blessings He showers round about you.
19. God Gives Us Commandments
“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
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He placed Adam and Eve in the bountiful garden of Eden and gave them two simple commands. They could eat of anything in their garden paradise, except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. They gave in to the temptation of the flesh and disobeyed God, thus sin entered into the human race. A sacrifice had to be made for sin. Adam and Eve were driven from the beautiful garden and the earth was cursed. As people became more abundant, so did sin. God gave more commandments. We have the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Since Jesus came to be our sacrifice and pay our sin debt, we are under grace. But He shares with us the great commandment, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. The second commandment is to love our neighbor. If we kept those two commandments, we would not have to worry about any of the others.
20. God Gives Warnings
"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 lie through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23
Romans 3:23 is very simple and the first key to salvation. To be saved, we must realize that we are lost in our sin. God gives us warning of the penalty of sin. "For the wages of sin is death..." Numbers 32:23 tells us, "... be sure your sin will find you out.” We also read in Ezekiel 18:20, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die..." If we don't accept the Lord's gift of salvation, we will spend eternity in hell. That warning is given many times in the Bible. If you don't know the Lord as your personal Savior, please trust in Him to forgive you and give you everlasting life in heaven. Listen to the warning before it is too late. For those of you who know the Lord, are you doing all you can to give out the warning? Read more of God's warning in Ezekiel 33:1-9, "Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul."
21. God Gives Us Friendship
"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
If you have read many of the devotions on this site, then you have read God's simple plan of salvation. I have often explained that being saved is an easy as A, B, C. Admit that you are a lost sinner with no way to get to heaven on your own. Believe that Jesus gave His life to pay for your sin. Confess with your mouth that He is Lord and accept God's free gift of salvation. It is so easy, but some people just won't believe and be saved. One reason some don't want to be saved is that they don't want to give up their friends. They know that if they are saved and live a Christian life, their old friends won't want to be around them. Let me assure you today that once you are saved you will be born-again into a large family of Christians and God will give you many Christian brothers, and sisters, and friends. You will grow in the Lord as you surround yourselves in church or Christian fellowship with other believers. Just this morning I read in Proverbs 13:20, "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." I have often been asked through this web site where to find the old saying, "Birds of a feather flock together". That saying is not in the Bible, but this verse in Proverbs has the same message. You will be like the people you hang around with the most. If you spend your time with wise people, you will become wiser. But as the Bible said, "...a companion of fools shall be destroyed". Don't let your friends keep you from trusting in the Lord and being saved. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and He will become "a friend that sticketh closer than a brother".
22. God Gave Us A Way
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Proverbs 14:12
We talked earlier this week about Adam and Eve and how they disobeyed God. You know, God could have said, "No way. You sinned against me and all is lost." But, priase the Lord, He didn't react that way. He went looking for them in the garden. He made a way for the forgiveness of their sin. He not only made a way for Adam and Eve, but He made a way for all who would believe on His Son, Jesus Christ. Let's read those familiar verses in John 14:1-6. "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. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." God gave us a way to eternal life, and there is only one way. "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)
23. Spiritual Gifts
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant... Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all... For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit;...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. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers?..." portions of I Corinthians 12
Spiritual gifts. That is the theme of I Corinthians 12. Paul reminded the church that God has given each one of us different spiritual gifts. You may have a gift of preaching or teaching God's Word. We think of those as being important gifts for our churches. You may have the gift of leadership, and that is also important for the work of the Lord. But, as Paul tried to tell the Corinthian church, all are important to God's church. We are all in the body of Christ and our gift, no matter how small it may seem, is just as honorable. Use the spiritual gift that God has given you for His glory. If God has given you the gift of helps, then be a help to others with joy in your heart and a smile on your face.
24. Gifts Without Charity
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." I Corinthians 13:1-3
God has given each of us different spiritual gifts. And Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:31, "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way." What is the "more excellent way"? Charity, or love, makes the difference. Paul opens this chapter by saying that you can have the gift of speaking, but if you don't have love, your words are just noise. Even the great gift of faith, is counted nothing, without love. If you don't have love to God and others, the gifts you have are nothing. Not only that, but Paul also tells us, "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." The gifts we give to others need to be given in love. This chapter ends, "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." (I Corinthians 13:13)
25. God Gives Us Talents
"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And like wise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. and so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather whether I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." Matthew 25:14-29
We talked about how God has given each of us gifts and we need to use those gifts for His glory. Today I want to challenge you to use your talents for the Lord. I know that the word, "talent", in this story is money, and I will get to that in a minute, but first let's talk of talents. God has given each of us talents "according to his several ability". Some people seem to have many talents, and just as in our text above, the more they use their talents for God, the more their talents seem to grow. If you have five talents, or two talents and you are using them for the Lord, that is wonderful. If you have to search to find your talent, don't hide it, but give it to God and watch it grow. If you can sing, then sing to praise the Lord. If you can teach, then teach of God's goodness. My Mom is a wonderful seamstress. You might wonder how she could use a talent for sewing for God. She has often made and given dresses to children and widows in her neighborhood. She uses her God-given ability for others. Find your talents, and use them for God.
Now let's look at talents as money. We need to give our tithes and offerings to the Lord. God have given you everything that you have. He has given you the things that you see, your food and clothing, and a place to live. He also gives you things you don't see, like the air you breathe, and hope and peace. We need to give a portion back to Him. We can give tithes to our church and we can give love offerings to missionaries and those in need. I have used these verses before, but let's look at them again. "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 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 3:8-10)
26. God Gives Us The Great Commission
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” Matthew 28:19-20
We have very little snow in the center of North Carolina, but during the night we had maybe three inches. The snow was still falling as I drove to work this morning and the previous travelors had packed it tight on the roads. I am not used to driving on the snow and I prayed continually all the way to work. The Lord, my Lord, brought this verse to my mind as I slowly made my way to town, "...lo, I am with you alway..." I asked the Lord to ride with me today and protect me, and He did. As I turned to that verse in my Bible to type my devotions, I had to include verse 19 also. We have been talking about the gifts God has given us. We could not end this theme without including The Great Commission. Jesus saved us, and is with us always, and He wants us to tell others about His wonderful gift of salvation. He tells us to "Go". Go and teach. These are the closing words of our Lord in the book of Matthew. The same Lord who is our constant companion, the same Lord who said, "...I am with you alway..." also told us to go and teach His Word to others.
27. Give Thanks
"O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." Psalm 136:1
Just eight weeks ago we were celebrating Thanksgiving. We set aside a special day to give thanks to our God. I do not believe Thanksgiving should be one Thursday in November, but I believe that the Bible teaches us to give thanks always. Several times in the Psalms we read, "O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good." God has blessed us and been so good to us and we could never repay Him, but we can give thanks and praise to Him. I thank Him most of all for salvation. Without Christ I would spend eternity in hell and I could never thank Him enough just for His mercy and saving grace. I also thank Him for my health, my family, my home, my church family, and for supplying my every need. He has been so good to me. Don't wait until next fall to give God the thanks and praise that He is so worthy of. Thank Him today, for He is good.
28. Give God Your Praise
"The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:10-11
Many people receive praise; political leaders, sports stars, movie stars, and the rich and famous. As Christians, we should give our praise and worship to the Lord our God. God's Word tells us that we will all bow down to Him in worship. "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." (Romans 14:11) We get a glimpse of heaven in the book of Revelation with all the glory and beauty. We will be in awe of the glorious wonders, but the greatest wonder in heaven is the Lamb of God on His throne. "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." (Revelation 5:11-13) We will have all eternity to give God our praise, let's start today!
"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Revelation 22:12
Galatians 5:22 and 23 give us guidelines for our Christian behavior. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." A few years ago I challenged my readers to concentrate on Christian acts of kindness, doing a good deed for at least one person each day. At the end of the year when I heard the song on the radio, "So this is Christmas, what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun," I knew that I had indeed done something good for somebody every day of the year. But, my acts of kindness had seemingly gone unnoticed. My Bible reading this morning led me to Proverbs 15:3, "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." We dwell on the fact that God sees our sin and this may help us overcome temptation. But this verse in Proverbs brings to light the fact that God not only sees our bad, but He sees our good. Keep bearing the Fruit of the Spirit. Let God's love flow through your heart and touch the lives of others. You may feel that no one notices, but God sees all. As I finish our look at gifts, we see the crowns. Not crowns that we will wear on our heads as we stroll on the streets of gold, but crowns that we can lay at our Savior's feet. God has done so much for us. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a crown to lay at His feet? We have nothing in ourselves to give to Him, for it all belongs to Him. But we can "present our bodies a living sacrifice" and do all we can for His glory to receive crowns to give back to Him. "The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." (Revelation 4:10-11)