Verses To Live By
Devotionals by Marian
God’s Indescribable Gift
The breathless anticipation of Christmas morning keeps children from falling asleep the night before. They just can’t wait to wake up and find presents under the tree! Once they find their name on a gift, they can’t wait to open it. At last, they tear off the ribbons and wrapping and find out what’s in the box.
It’s then that words fail them. A little dance or jumping in the air or uncontrollable giggles might begin to express their happiness. And yet, it is indescribable.
This is the joy that characterizes Paul as he remembers God’s indescribable gift of our Savior. How thankful he is that God would give such an extravagant and beyond description gift to save mankind from their sins. This is the most generous gift of all time. It’s a gift that’s undeserved and could never be paid back.
When words fail, let us pray that same prayer . . . thank you, Lord. And then may God help us find the words–and the boldness–to proclaim to the world that Jesus Christ is born.
But He is not only to be celebrated for coming to earth one Christmas morn long ago, but also for being born anew in our hearts. This rebirth has made all the difference in my life and I pray it has touched yours as well. If you do not know Jesus as Savior, I pray that this Christmas becomes the merriest of Christmases for you as you invite Him into your heart.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
Costumes, Turkeys and Reindeer
It’s that time of year where the next three holidays are displayed all at the same in stores. Within minutes, I’ve walked by pretty pink costumes, salt and pepper turkey shakers, and then a glowing reindeer decoration. It’s like stores have turned into a three-ring circus. Nobody can seem to wait to celebrate each holiday in it’s due course and so all three must crowd the stage. What was a normal way of segueing from Halloween to Thanksgiving followed by Christmas has now morphed into this confused season where all three holidays no longer seem to have much distinction. It’s sort of like there is no longer any timeline. You basically get to pick and choose from the smorgasbord of upcoming holiday themes and decorations. And if you want all three…why not? As they say…the more the merrier!
In times like these, there is an eternal source of truth that is solid and unwavering. It provides direction and meaning and purpose in a world that seems to have lost it’s footing. It gives answers to people’s questions, uncovers lies, and exposes half-baked truths. The only constant rock that is stable and secure in every storm of life is the unchanging Bible, the Holy Word of God sent to all mankind. It continually points us to a way of living that is in stark contrast to a culture that’s lost it’s way.
In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul encourages us to lay aside jealousy, disagreements, assumptions, arguments, and greed and take on a new lifestyle: godliness. But not just godliness. While that may appear to be enough…we need to add one more thing. Make sure that you don’t forget…”contentment which is great gain.” The rewards of walking close to Christ and finding our complete fullness in Him is a radical way of thinking. We need to be on our guard against all our earthly possessions that inherently have the potential to crowd our thoughts and lives and burden our hearts with unnecessary weight. In the light of eternity, everything in this world has a brief shelf life. “For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be content with that. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
When the world screams from every corner, “More!”, a Christian can whisper, “I have all that I really need.”
Prayer for today:
Gracious Father in Heaven: In a world that demands that I must have the latest tech gadget, fashion accessory, or shiny new household item in order to be happy, may I choose to walk in close communion with you and with a heart that is grateful that You supply my daily needs. Help me not to search for joy and peace by accumulating things or pursuing greed. That will simply lead to heartache and a lack of trust in your providence. Teach me to be in tune with Your will–following the steady beat of your kind and good and loving heart. For it’s in Jesus’ name I ask this, Amen.
How We Remember The Fish
How we remember the fish that we used to eat in Egypt for free! And the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic!–Numbers 11:5
The Israelites could only remember the amazing fish in Egypt. Their selective memory glamorized the few good times without speaking the whole truth about the horrible treatment they received from their oppressors. Instead of being grateful for the manna from God, they continually grumbled about this heavenly food that the Lord delivered practically right at their doorsteps. Talk about a fresh, healthy, and definitely, organic diet!
How easily I can adopt their same attitude of discontentment and criticism. Whenever I feel the need to complain, I pray that the Holy Spirit will convict me on the spot and remind of the Lord’s unending loving-kindness, which is the Hebrew, “chesed”. God has always been faithful to me and He only deserves my highest praise! Ingratitude and complaining have no place in the life of a child of God.
Prayer for today:
Dear Heavenly Father: You are full of compassion and mercy in all You do. Everything Your hand provides is a blessing. It’s undeserved. Forgive me if I should ever look back and imagine a life far from You that might bring satisfaction and happiness. True joy is found only in pursuing a daily walk that fears the Lord. May my every word, thought, action, and decision glorify Your holy name. In Jesus’ name I ask all this, Amen
Favor from God
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.–Psalm 84:11
The Lord gives direction and protection to those that seek Him. It is beautiful to see God’s favor shine on the life of a Christian. He does not hold back His blessings on those who walk in fear of God and according to His ways. The Lord is concerned with every detail of our lives–even the parts that we don’t know about yet.
Gracious God: All good things come from you. They are given because You are good and loving. I thank you for compassion and kindness. May my life continually bring you glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen
At the Feet of Jesus
But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”–Luke 10:41-42
The Lord approved of Mary’s wise choice, but wasn’t at all impressed with Martha trying to get everything perfect. He said that what Mary was doing will never be taken from her. She was making a decision on earth that would have eternal rewards.
A prayer for today:
Lord, Give me a heart like Mary’s that seeks you above the endless distractions of this life. Teach me to desire only one thing: time spent at your feet. Open my eyes, ears, and heart to listen to You every day. In Jesus’s name, Amen
Studying the Word
Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
–II Timothy 2:15
The apostle Paul reminds Timothy that he is working for God. He is to study and be acceptable before Him. Bible study is not about spouting off facts or getting a head full of Bible verses. Rather, it’s about not being embarrassed about our service before God. Timothy needs to know how to handle God’s precious word. He needs God’s wisdom and understanding as he earnestly studies it. He is handling the truth and needs to know it so well that he is not fooled by lies.
As Christians, we have the same call. These are not directions limited to pastors or lay leaders, but to every believer who desires approval from God. The reason we want to spend time immersed in God’s word is because we are seeking God’s approval.
Prayer for today:
Gracious Father, Your word is the truth we need for godly living. Give us your power to diligently search it out. Teach our hearts to tune in and listen to Your voice as you speak to us through Your Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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