Following the Star

Posted December 15th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Suppose you could give a gift to Christ, what would it be? How could you possibly select a gift for the One who not only has everything, but who made everything?

The Wise Men did. They can be an example to us. In addition to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh, they gave the Savior some gifts we can give him today: their hope, their time, and their worship.

The wandering wise men gave Jesus their hope. When everyone else saw a night sky, this small band of men saw the light. The sight of the star sparked a desire in their hearts that send them packing. They went, seeking Jesus.

When night comes to your world, what do you see? The darkness or the stars? Hopelessness or hopefulness? Sometimes, just as he did so long ago, God uses the darkness to reveal his stars—“The light shines in the darkness” (John 1:5). Give God your hope for Christmas.

While you’re giving, give God your time. The wise men did. Before they gave God their presents, they gave their presence. It’s likely that these men traveled as long as two years before locating the prince of heaven. Before that one incredible moment when they knelt before Jesus, the wise men spent many moments, months, perhaps years searching, in anticipation of that meeting. Just as the wise men devoted themselves to seeking the Savior, so can you: “You will seek him and find him when you seek him with all your heart” (Duet. 4:29).

And when they did find him, the wise men gave Jesus another gift: their worship. Men of wealth, influence, and intellect: what did they do when they saw Jesus? “…they fell down and worshiped him” (Matt. 2:11)

Worship. It’s a gift that extends to the giver as well. Through worship, we come to see God more clearly. God invites us, through worship, to see his face so he can change ours. In worship, we simply stand before God with a prepared and willing heart and let God do his work. And he does. He wipes away the tears. He mops away the perspiration. He softens our furrowed brows. He touches our cheeks. He changes our faces as we worship. The wise men sought the child of God, just as God seeks his children. “The Father is actively seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23).

The gifts of hope, time, and worship. Three gifts the wise still give.

 by Max Lucado 

 

A Simpler Life

Posted December 8th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

As we enter the Christmas season, I thought this teaching from Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” would be helpful and encouraging. – jw

“Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” (Galatians 6:4-5 NLT)

At Christmas time, we often feel like we have to get it all done, and then we crash and burn when we can’t do it all. If you want to simplify this season, you need to understand that it’s all about making choices – and then sticking to those choices, no matter how tempting it is to add more to your holiday “to do” list.

It’s easy to forget this, but it’s true: You’re the only one who must assume responsibility for your time, and you’re the only one who can clarify what’s really important to you. The choices you make control your calendar and, as a result, your lifestyle. Your choices are far more powerful than your circumstances, and you have the power to simplify your life by making purpose-full choices.

The Bible teaches, “We are each responsible for our own conduct.” (Galatians 6:4-5 NLT) That’s why it’s so important to discover why God placed you on this planet: What is your purpose for being here?

In the long run, the donation of your life will count far more than the duration. In other words, it’s not how long you live – or even how much you cram into the length of your life – it’s about how you live, according to God’s purpose for you.

What now?

· Let your purpose guide what you do this Christmas season. As you serve, serve where you know God intends for you to serve. Don’t just volunteer for anything or everything. As you pray about it, you may sense God is prompting you to start a “not to do” list!

· You have just enough time to do God’s will this season. You’ve been given just enough time to fulfill his purpose over the next 30 days. When you try to do more than God planned for you to do, it’s only natural that you’ll stress over your schedule.

· Does your list include rest? God doesn’t want you to burn out; in fact, he may want you to specifically add “rest” to your to-do list because he knows you’re trying to overdo it. Does your list include having fun this season as you express gratitude to God the gift of his Son?

A Heavenly Affirmation

Posted December 1st, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Each of us has a fantasy that our family will be like the Waltons, an expectation that our dearest friends will be our next of kin. Jesus didn’t have that expectation. Look how he defined his family: “My true brother and sister and mother are those who do what God wants” (Mark 3:35).

When Jesus’ brothers didn’t share his convictions, he didn’t try to force them. He recognized that his spiritual family could provide what his physical family didn’t. If Jesus himself couldn’t force his family to share his convictions, what makes you think you can force yours?

We can’t control the way our family responds to us. When it comes to the behavior of others toward us, our hands are tied. We have to move beyond the naive expectation that if we do good, people will treat us right. The fact is they may and they may not—we cannot control how people respond to us.

I can’t assure you that your family will ever give you the blessing you seek, but I know God will. Let God give you what your family doesn’t. If your earthly father doesn’t affirm you, then let your heavenly Father take his place.

God has proven himself as a faithful father. Now it falls to us to be trusting children. Let God give you what your family doesn’t. Let him fill the void others have left. Rely upon him for your affirmation and encouragement. Look at Paul’s words: “You are God’s child, and God will give you the blessing he promised, because you are his child” (Gal. 4:7, emphasis added).

[And] don’t lose heart. God still changes families.

by Max Lucado