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Day 22: The Gift of Joy

28 Days of Christmas Devotions: The Greatest Gift-The Gift of Christ

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:11

The shepherds, who were tending their flock by night, were afraid when the Angel of the Lord appeared to them. The Angel of the Lord then said, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11). Jesus is the good news of great joy. Throughout the scriptures, we see people who receive this good news have great joy. We see that the first church worshiped with gladness in their heart. (Acts 2:46). When the gentiles discovered that the gospel was available to them, they rejoiced. (Acts 13:48). The bible tells us to consider our trials a joy knowing that we will become stronger, through Christ, because of them. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”

True joy is found only in the person of Jesus. In the eleventh chapter of John, Jesus tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches, He tells us that the Father prunes us and that the word of God has made us clean. Since Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, we understand He is our source of life. Jesus lets us know if our life source is not found in Him we are dead and will be thrown into the fire.

He also tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing. Ten times in this text of scripture Jesus uses the word abide. When we abide in Christ we bear fruit and honor God. If we are going to accomplish anything in life, anything eternal, anything that matters, we will only accomplish it by abiding in Christ. In Him and through Him we bear fruit. When we bear fruit, we bring glory to the Father. If we are truly in Christ, bringing glory to the Father will give us great joy and our joy, through Christ, will be made full. Truly, Jesus is good news of great joy. Truly, we have received the greatest gift the world has ever seen.

This is part 22 of 28 devotions that will go through Christmas Eve. If you would like to subscribe to my daily devotions please PM me your email. Also, please share.

Merry Christ-Mass

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Posted by on December 18, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Pay Close Attention to Yourself

“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (I Timothy 4:16).

If we are going to be effective tools for the Lord, we must take heed to the words of Paul and pay close attention to ourselves. With this in mind we should continually examine ourselves. We examine ourselves through the Word of God and through prayer. Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” This should be a continual prayer from our heart.

Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” If God will not hear us, he certainly will not use us. Therefore, as we examine our heart we must ask God to reveal any wickedness we may have hidden in our heart. One may say, “I have no need for this, for my heart is pure.” That is pride, which is in every way, wickedness. Remember, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18). The Pharisees were prideful in what they perceived to be their righteousness, but, Jesus called them sons of Hell.

Iniquity and wickedness is sneaky, hiding in the darkest corners of our soul, unwilling to show itself for what it is, so it can control your will and manipulate you into thinking you are right with God. Some iniquity could have been lingering in the darkness for years while we are clueless of its power over us. Other forms of wickedness could have recently crept in trying to take root. For this reason we must pay close attention to ourselves and seek God for revelation of any form of wickedness hidden deep within.

Wickedness can come in many forms. It is found in the heart that is unloving and selfish. It is found in the soul that is self-centered and self-seeking. It is found in the heart of the prideful trusting in their own power rather than God’s. It is found in the heart of the prejudice thinking they are better than the other. It is found in the vengeful, spiteful, resentful, and unforgiving spirit. It is found in the one who is seeking his own kingdom with worldly ambitions, rather than the advancements of God’s. It comes in many forms and in many ways, but the worst form of wickedness is the stubborn soul that refuses to repent and submit to God.

As we pay close attention to ourselves, we are sure to find flaws in our character that do not line up with God’s. We first trust in His grace and receive forgiveness, then we seek His transforming and renewing power, trusting that He will restore us into right relationship. We realize that we never reach the pinnacle of maturity as a Christian. We are perpetually learning and growing. For this reason, if we are going to be effective workers for His Kingdom, we must perpetually seek the power of God in our personal lives, submitting ourselves to His will, and His ways.

In order for us to achieve this spiritual success we must be devoted to the Word of God. Not devoted only to enhance the ministry in which God has called us, but first and foremost devoted to the Word of God for our own spiritual growth and well-being. We must be seekers of God, continually seeking Him through His Word. At the same time we must pray without ceasing. Again not only for the purpose of the ministry, but as seekers of the Lord, allowing our lips to never cease praising Him, and never cease requesting His presence in our lives. Not for what we can get from Him, but for the simple purpose of having Him central and exalted in our lives.

If Jesus is not central and exalted in our lives, we open the door for wickedness to enter in, and close the door for the power of God to work through us. Therefore, when we pay close attention to ourselves, the main question should always be, “Is Jesus central and exalted in my life?”

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Posted by on November 25, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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We Are Tools for the Kingdom

Have you ever heard someone say after looking at a beautiful sculpture, “That artist must have some great carving tools?” Or, have you heard someone say after seeing a beautiful building, “Those construction workers must have had some amazing tools?” Of course not. There’s never an emphasis on the tools. The artist or the architect always receives the praise. God is the artist and the architect of the Kingdom. He is the master designer and we are simply the tools. Therefore, He deserves all the glory and honor.

That being said, every worker regardless of their trade knows the value of good tools. Poor quality tools or tools that are not functioning properly can be very frustrating to work with, hindering the progress of the project. For this reason we need to make sure we are a properly prepared tool that will be used to enhance the work of the Kingdom, instead of being a hindrance. Paul said to Timothy in I Timothy 4:16, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”

We are in a spiritual battle. Therefore, if we are going to be successful we need to set ourselves up spiritually to use the divinely powerful weapons of warfare God has available for us and the spiritual gifting God has given to us. If we attempt to do the work of the Kingdom in our own strength and power, we will utterly fail. Paul said in I Corinthians 2:4, “My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” The flesh will always fail us. But, when we align ourselves up with the power and anointing of God, we will have success far beyond what we can hope for or even imagine.

Paul said to Timothy, the pastor of Ephesus, “Pay close attention to yourself.” Before we can effectively minister to others we need to examine ourselves and make sure we are right. The best way to stay in tune with God is to keep close fellowship with Him. We must daily seek God’s presence in our lives. Not just His presence for the anointing of the work in which He has called us to, but His presence for our close and personal fellowship with the Him. We must be active, consistent, and persistent seekers and worshipers of the Lord.

Colossians 3:1-2 says, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” If we are focused on the things of this earth, we will be easily susceptible to falling for earthly and fleshly ways and be conformed to this world. Thus, our ministry will follow that same path. However, when we are focused on the things above, we are led by the things above and our ministry will likewise follow that same path.

A tool that is dull, dirty, or rusted is an ineffective tool. Therefore, pay close attention to yourself. Are you allowing God to sharpen you, oil you up, and clean you? If not, you are an ineffective tool for the Master. If you are daily seeking and submitting yourself to God, you are allowing Him to sharpen you, oil you, and clean you, so you can be used greatly for His glory. God is unlimited in His abilities. However, God chooses to use us as His tools. Therefore, we need to offer Him the quality of tool He deserves.

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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Our Authority

Paul wrote in I Corinthians 4:6, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.” In this verse he is telling the church of Corinth that he and Apollos have made a standard for themselves not to exceed what is written. He is now telling the church of Corinth to follow their example. What was written? The scriptures. Clearly the Word of God is our authority that we are not to exceed or go beyond.

Paul also wrote in II Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” When one looks at this text in its original language they will see that the literal meaning of “inspired by God” means “God breathed.” God used many men to write down His word but all Scripture comes directly from the breath of God. It is God’s word not mans. II Peter 1:20-21 says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” For anyone to go beyond what is written is arrogant, boastful, and blasphemous. God has given to us His word “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (I Peter 1:19).

Paul said that Scripture is profitable. He then listed several things it was profitable for. Since it is profitable we will gain and increase through the study of the Word of God which is God breathed. The end result we gain from Scripture is “that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Through God’s word we have everything we will ever need to be thoroughly equipped for service unto Him.

Paul first mentions that Scripture is profitable for teaching. When we are taught, the teaching must be centered in Scripture. When we teach, our teaching must be centered in Scripture. He then says that scripture is profitable for reproof. To reproof someone is to call them out for an error or a wrong. When calling one out for being wrong or for an error in their lives or teaching we must use Scripture. Our opinions are always susceptible to being wrong. However, Scripture is always right. Paul then said Scripture is profitable for correction. Correction is restoration to an upright position. We don’t want to be reproved and not know how to correct the error of our way. Scripture brings us back into the right path, out of the error. It corrects us.

Paul then tells us that Scripture is profitable for training in righteousness. Romans 3:10 tells us that, “there is no one righteous, not even one.” Most everyone will admit that they are a sinner. However, not everyone knows the guilt of their unrighteousness. Scripture makes it clear. Romans 3:22 then tells us that we receive righteousness by placing our faith in Christ and Romans 3:26 tells us that faith in Christ justifies us-makes us right with God. Yet, how will we or anyone else know these truths apart from the authority of God’s word? We won’t. And, apart from Scripture, how will we grow in righteousness? We won’t.

Whether it is for our personal growth, or teaching others, we trust in the authority of God’s breathed word. Paul said not to go beyond what it written. If we were to go beyond what is written it will profit us nothing and more than likely will cause great harm. However, when we trust in the authority of the written word that was breathed from God with our lives and our ministry we will be adequately equipped for every good work. In other words, we will be lacking in nothing.

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Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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