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Scripture

Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Devotion

The educated man is ignorant, the strong man is weak, and the wealthy man is poor who doesn’t understand the true meaning of Christmas.

What good does it do us to put a man on the moon if we can’t get God in our hearts? What good is it to know astronomy, how the heavens go, and not know Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star, and how to go to Heaven? What good is it to know botany and the study of flowers and not know Jesus, Heaven’s sweetest rose, the Rose of Sharon, who can perfume any life? What good is it to know the events of history, yet not know that history is His story? What good is it to know geology and the ages of rocks and not know Jesus, the Rock of Ages? “For it is in Him we live and move and have our being.” 

Jesus was not just another child. He was not just the Galilean peasant, the great teacher. He was supernatural.

ACTION POINT:
You won’t understand Christmas until you understand that this child was born of a virgin. This child is the very Son of God. Never forget this. Read the words of Isaiah 9:6-7. Let his prophecy about this child speak to you today.

Scripture

James 1:4 - "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Devotion

I talk a lot about faith. But there’s another force that goes along with it that’s just as important. It’s patience—the ability to stand fast on the Word of God even when your victory seems slow in coming.

Patience is not automatic. It won’t go to work unless you let it go to work. So many people don’t understand that. They somehow think faith and patience will go to work for them without their help. They just let the devil tear their lives apart and then they say silly things like, “Well, I guess God sent that trial to strengthen my faith.”

Don’t you ever get caught saying that!

In the first place, James says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God...” (James 1:13). And in the second place, that trial isn’t going to make your faith stronger. In fact, it’ll destroy it if you’ll let it.

If I were to give you a set of weights, would that set of weights make you any stronger? No. As a matter of fact, if you dropped one of them on your foot, you could end up painfully weaker. It’s what you do with them that counts, right?

Well, the same thing is true when you run into some kind of trying circumstance the devil’s brought your way. If you just lie down and let it run over you, it will damage you. But if you’ll let patience have her perfect work, if you’ll remain consistently constant, trusting in and relying confidently on the Word of God, you’ll end up perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

“Wanting nothing.” That phrase alone should convince you that patience is no consolation prize. It’s a first-rate power that will put the promises of God within your reach. It’s a force that will make a winner out of you.

Scripture

Ps. 91:14-15 - "Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore... He shall call upon me, and I will answer him

Devotion

 "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jer. 33:3).
"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matt. 21:22)."Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" (Mark 11:24).

"And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you...ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:23-24).

These are by no means all of the scriptures on the subject of prayer. But these scriptures alone are enough to set our hearts on fire. They're enough to start us praying. Why? Because El Shaddai said to us, "I will answer." The Almighty God - the One who is more than enough - has promised to answer those who set their love on Him!

Confession: I have set my love upon Almighty God; therefore, He answers me. I call upon Him, and He answers me. I ask, and He gives me. I seek, and He causes me to find. I knock, and He opens it to me. What things soever I desire, when I pray, I believe that I receive them, and God causes me to have them. Whatever I ask in Jesus' Name, Almighty God gives me. My joy is full!

Scripture

Ecclesiastes 7:8 - "The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride

Devotion

A story is told about a man whose horse ran away. His neighbors came to console him and told him how sorry they were that this bad thing had happened. The man replied, "Who says it's a bad thing? Maybe it is, maybe it's not."
A few days later, the horse returned along with a beautiful black mare. The neighbors came over to congratulate the man who now had two horses instead of one. They said what a good thing had happened to him. The man replied, "Who says this is a good thing? Maybe it is, maybe it's not."
The next day, the man's son was riding the new horse when he fell off and broke his leg. This time the neighbors were consoling the man once more saying how he was right - what they had thought was good, was really bad. The man again replied, "Who says it's bad? Maybe it is and maybe it's not."
A few days later, representatives of the King came to round up all the young boys to serve in the army. In those days, that was usually a death sentence. They didn't take the man's son because his leg was broken. When the neighbors came over that day, the man declared, "Now I know that my horse running away was a good thing!"
In Ecclesiastes, we read, "The end of a matter is better than its beginning." The Jewish sages explain the reason why the end is better than the beginning because only at the end can we truly know if something is good or bad. In the beginning, something that looks bad may turn out good while something that looks good can turn out bad. But then again, like the story, we know that things can become good again. It's only at the end that we know for sure.
Moreover, we read in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you . . ." We know that for those who are God-fearing, the end will be good. We just need to be patient enough to see it.
This explains the connection to the second part of the verse from Ecclesiastes: "patience is better than pride." Pride says that we know it all and we can determine what's good for us and what is bad. Patience says, "Let's wait and see."
Friends, when it comes to our own lives, let's remember that the jury is out until the end. No matter what struggles we may be facing today, the story isn't over yet. Ultimately, things will turn out for good. With patience and faith, we will see it yet.

Scripture

Hebrews 13:5 - "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

Devotion

A mother was watching her young son play at the beach one day. All of a sudden, a huge wave appeared and crashed down over the boy. The water receded, and the boy was gone.
Holding her hands to the sky, she cried, "God how could you? I'm a wonderful mother. And I've tried to live a good life. Why would you take my son away from me?"
A few minutes later another huge wave appeared out of nowhere and crashed on the beach. As the water receded, the boy stood there, smiling, splashing around as if nothing had ever happened. A loud voice boomed from the sky, "Okay, okay, I have returned your son. Are you satisfied?"
She responded, "No, I'm not. Where's the hat he was wearing?"
It's easy to fall into the trap of seeing God's blessings and provision as less than enough. If we have food, a roof over our heads, and a bed to sleep in, we're richer than most of the people who've ever lived.
Don't let greed gain a stronghold in your life. Be content with God's provision and trust Him to continue meeting your every need.
Prayer Challenge: Pray that God would give you contentment with the blessings He's provided for you.

Scripture

John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life

Devotion

Think of the person you love the most. What is your deepest desire for that individual? If you’re a parent, you may be thinking of your children. Maybe you desire for your children to get an education. But if that is all you desire, you are going to raise a clever devil. Do you desire for your children to learn culture? If culture is your hope, all you are doing is making the world a better place to go to hell from.

“Well,” you say, “I want them to be materially well off. I want them to have sufficiency.” Let me ask you, What difference will it make if they have it all, then die and rise to judgment, to face a God they do not know?

Jesus came not as a great philosopher or educator, not as a communist or social worker. Jesus came as Savior for man’s greatest need. The desire that you ought to have for all of your loved ones is that their needs would be met, and their greatest need is salvation.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).

Scripture

Mark 10:44-45 - And whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many

Devotion

A non-commissioned officer was directing the repairs of a military building during the American Revolution. He was shouting orders to the soldiers under his command, trying to get them to raise a heavy wooden beam.

As the men struggled in vain to lift the beam into place, a man, who was passing by, stopped to ask the one in charge why he wasn't helping the men. With all the pride of an emperor, the soldier responded, "Sir, I am a corporal!"

"You are, are you?" replied the passerby, "I was not aware of that." Then, taking off his hat and bowing, he said, "I ask your pardon, Corporal." Then the stranger walked over and strained with the soldiers to lift the heavy beam.

After the job was finished, he turned and said, "Mr. Corporal, when you have another such job and have not enough men, send for your Commander in Chief, and I will come and help you a second time." The corporal was thunderstruck. The man’s name was General George Washington.

We all want to be honored, respected and appreciated. So badly, sometimes, that we try to demand it. The fact is, that these things cannot be demanded or even requested. True honor, respect, and appreciation only come one way - When we become servants.

Let's ask the Lord to help us to become the servants he would desire. After all, He did set a great example by laying down his life for us.

Scripture

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

Devotion

If God loves people, why doesn’t he just save everyone? Perhaps you have asked this question or know someone who has. While the question is good, it places the blame for people’s damnation on the wrong person: God.
God does not want anyone to spend eternity in hell. In fact, he earnestly desires that everyone spend all eternity with him in heaven. Scripture tells us, “[God] does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9). Throughout the Bible we see God’s loving and patient invitation for us to come to him:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“Come. Let the thirsty ones come – anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the water of life without charge.” (Revelation 22:17)
The truth is that there are some things only God can do – such as cleanse us of our sin, forgive us, and justify us. At the same time, there are some things only we can do – such as come to him, believe in him, and repent of our sins. While God does indeed love everyone (John 3:16 and Romans 5:8), he has given us a wonderful but dangerous gift. That gift is called “free will.” It is the ability to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, God and Satan, and heaven and hell. God will not force his salvation and forgiveness upon our lives. It is our choice to say yes or no.
Anyone who ends up in the hell is there because of his or her wilful and deliberate decision to reject God’s offer of forgiveness. As the famous British author, C. S. Lewis put it, “The gates of hell are locked from the inside.”

Scripture

John 8:44 - When [the devil] speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it

Devotion

Some people find it difficult to believe God’s promises because they’ve seen so many things in the natural world that seem to contradict them. They’ve seen faithful tithers go broke. They’ve seen sick Christians fail to receive their healing.

In reality, it would be more accurate to say that they think they’ve seen those things. Because you see, there’s a deceiver at work in the world. A deceiver who’s busily doing the same thing he’s been doing ever since the Garden of Eden: tricking mankind into believing God’s Word isn’t true.

And, after working on it for thousands of years, he’s a master at it. Think about that the next time he tries to make things look as though God’s Word is not going to work for you when he makes it look like all hope is lost. Say, “I don’t care about appearances. I believe the Word and I refuse to doubt it.”

Let me show you what I mean. Have you ever seen a magic show where someone crawls inside a box and then is sawn in half? You can see it with your own two eyes. The guy’s feet are sticking out one end of the box and his head is poking out the other, and the box is plainly cut in two. Then the magician slides the two halves back together and the sawed-apart fellow jumps out of the box in one piece.

Now tell me, did you really believe, even for a moment, that fellow was truly cut in half? Of course not! You knew that you’d seen a trick, a deception, something that appeared one way when, in reality, it was a different way altogether. You may not have known how it was done. You may not have been able to explain it. But you knew a person couldn’t be sawn in half, then put back together, so you refused to believe your eyes.

That’s exactly the way you need to be where the Word of God is concerned. You need to learn to trust it and rely on it to such an extent that when Satan shows you something in the natural world that appears to contradict it, you just say, “Well, I saw that, but I’m not going to be innocent enough to believe it. I’m just going to stick with the Word.”

If you’ll do that, the father of lies will never be able to put one over on you.

Scripture

Colossians 3:15 - And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from the Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds.... And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always.

Devotion

Have you been praying that God will let you know whether a certain action you want to take is agreeable to His will or not? Let this peace of Christ be your guide. Let it help you settle the issue. If you start to take that action and you realize you don't have peace about it, don't do it.

Remember, though, that this inner leading of the Holy Spirit, this subtle sense of uneasiness or peace He gives you, is something you have to watch and listen for carefully. He generally won't just come up and knock you out of bed one morning and tell you what you need to do. The primary way He speaks to you is what the Bible calls an inward witness.

So, you have to listen. You can't just stay busy with the things of the world all the time. You have to give Him time and attention.

Also, watch out for strife. If you're irritated and upset about things in your life, it will be very hard to receive that quiet guidance from the Holy Spirit. So take heed to the instructions at the end of this scripture and "be thankful... appreciative, giving praise to God always." Maintain a thankful, grateful heart. You'll find it much easier to hear the "umpire of peace" when He makes a call.

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