Charles Stanley –The Celebration of Christmas

 

Luke 2:1-20

How would you explain Christmas to someone unfamiliar with it? Most people define the holiday according to how they celebrate it. But Christmas is far more than trees, lights, gifts, food, and parties. It’s one of the three most important events in human history. God’s plan for mankind’s salvation began with the birth of Jesus Christ. Without that, there would have been no crucifixion, no resurrection, and no hope for humanity.

Once we understand the true significance of Christmas, our attitude about the holiday will change. Instead of focusing on all the externals and becoming exhausted from preparations and activities, we’ll understand that it’s all about Jesus, who came to offer us forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life.

I’m not advocating that we drop all our traditions but that we become intentional about keeping Jesus as the central focus of our celebrations. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Open a Bible to chapter 2 of Luke. Then place it beside the gifts under the tree as a reminder to read Jesus’ birth story on Christmas morning.
    • As you open presents, remember that everything you have is from God, and His greatest gift to you is His Son.
    • Take a few moments to recall how Christ saved you. Share your testimony, and then thank and praise Him for your salvation.

It’s good to evaluate traditions occasionally to determine whether they are helping or hindering your focus on Christ. Don’t be afraid to simplify if Jesus is being obscured by all the activities.

Bible in One Year: 1 Peter 1-5

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — In Abundance or Affliction

 

Read: Job 1:13–22 | Bible in a Year: Nahum 1–3; Revelation 14

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. Job 1:21

Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts encourages readers to search their lives each day for what the Lord has done for them. In it, she daily notes God’s abundant generosity to her in gifts both large and small, ranging from the simple beauty of iridescent bubbles in the dish sink to the incomparable salvation of sinners like herself (and the rest of us!). Ann contends that gratitude is the key to seeing God in even the most troubling of life’s moments.

Job is famous for a life of such “troubling” moments. Indeed, his losses were deep and many. Just moments after losing all his livestock, he learns of the simultaneous death of all his ten children. Job’s profound grief was evidenced in his response: he “tore his robe and shaved his head” (1:20). His words in that painful hour make me think Job knew the practice of gratitude, for he acknowledges that God had given him everything he’d lost (v. 21). How else could he worship in the midst of such incapacitating grief?

The practice of daily gratitude can’t erase the magnitude of pain we feel in seasons of loss. Job questioned and grappled through his grief as the rest of the book describes. But recognizing God’s goodness to us—in even the smallest of ways—can prepare us to kneel in worship before our all-powerful God in the darkest hours of our earthly lives.

O God, You are the Giver of all good things. Help me to recognize Your generosity in even the smallest ways and to trust You in seasons of loss and hardship.

Why not start a gratitude list? Watch how the regular practice of thankfulness changes your daily life.

By Kirsten Holmberg

INSIGHT

Job 1 captures the weight of why God allows suffering through two vividly contrasting portraits. First, we see the joy shared in Job’s family while he wholeheartedly served God. This image is followed by one of a still-devoted Job grieving the near-complete destruction of that life.

To learn more about why God allows suffering, visit christianuniversity.org/CA211.

Monica Brands

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – No Money, No Worry

 

Romans 4:18–19

More than a hundred years ago in England, there were many orphans with no one to care for them. A man named George Müller and his wife began helping orphans by inviting the children into their own home. Soon he had five orphanages where more than 2,000 children lived. George was a man of great faith and he never asked anyone for money to support his ministry or the orphanage. He never went into debt either. He believed God would give him what he needed, so he decided not to take a salary when he became the pastor of a small church. He trusted God to care for him and his family. God always provided for George’s needs and more, and that made his faith grow. Many times, there was no food at the orphanage, but George went right on believing God would provide. Food always showed up just in time to feed the children.

By the time he died, Müller had cared for and educated thousands of children. He had given away thousands of Bibles, even more New Testaments, and millions of other religious books. He also supported 150 missionaries. You see, he believed that God could meet all his needs even when there was nothing. He was like Abraham who hoped even when he couldn’t see how God would help him.

If God took care of George Müller and his orphans, he can take care of you. Is there something your family needs? Pray and believe God will meet your need. You will be surprised at the awesome things God will do for you too.

Dear Lord, Thank you for giving us what we need as we do your work in the world. Amen.

Joyce Meyer – Back on Track

 

For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]. — Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource New Day New You Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

We are God’s own handiwork. He created us with His own hands. We got messed up, so we had to be recreated in Christ Jesus. We had to be born again so that we could go ahead and do those good works that God had preplanned and predestined for us before Satan tried to ruin us.

Just because you and I have had trouble in our lives or just because we have made mistakes does not mean that God’s plan has been changed. It is still there. All we have to do is get back on track.

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You for the incredible plan You have for my life…and for Your grace and mercy that allows me to get back on track when things don’t go as planned. Father, I choose to put the past behind me. Help me to move forward in confidence, knowing You have great things ahead for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Power Over Discouragement

 

“And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up” (Galatians 6:9).

“Yes, I do get tired inthe work, but I never get tired ofthe work.” I have heard many missionaries, ministers and other Christian leaders make such a statement. I echo their sentiments.

The first half of this wonderful verse is the sower’s imperative; the second half is the sower’s reward. The first half is my responsibility; the second is God’s – which of course means that I should concern myself only with the first half, since our faithful God always keeps His promises.

One of the enemy’s greatest weapons is discouragement. Years ago that great saint and prophet, A.W. Tozer, preached a sermon on this subject in which he recognized discouragement solely as a tool of the devil, hence one he would refuse to accept in his own life.

It is because of Satan’s wiles in this regard – in causing us to be discouraged and give up – that one of God’s greatest gifts to His children is the gift of exhortation and encouragement, with emphasis on the latter. How many believers have been strengthened to carry on because of the helpful, encouraging word of a friend! And how important that you and I become that kind of friend. Yet, God’s promise of encouragement is far more important.

To “keep on keeping on” is easier when we know that God is faithful.

Bible Reading:Galatians 6:1-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: With power from the Holy Spirit who lives within me, I will refuse to allow Satan’s trick of discouragement to hinder my work, my walk and my witness for the Lord.

 

http://www.cru.org