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Archive | Discipleship

Pizza, Best Laid Plans, and a Bunch of “Un’s”

Plans

This post is a giveaway! Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Rhonda’s new book “Messy to Meaningful!” Ever have your plans fall apart? Or perhaps they took off in a different direction half-way through? Maybe they didn’t line up with your calling. In this guest post, Rhonda Rhea shares how God’s plans always succeed, even in the midst of our “un’s.”

I was a little upset the other day. I ordered a pizza online from my cell phone. And then I found out they wouldn’t even fax it to my house. Really?! Why isn’t there an app for that?

Honestly, sometimes I struggle with technology. Even my smart phone is smarter than I am. The way I know my phone is out of date and it’s time for an update is when I finally figure out how to use it.

Although my tech-savvy children don’t believe me, I’m not completely inept with all of the current technologies. Why, just today I was playing Twitter and I’m pretty sure I won.

Devices and Plans

I was reading in Proverbs 19 the other day, and I had to chuckle a little when I got to verse 21. It says, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand,” (Proverbs 19:21 KJV).

“Devices.” Yeah, that got my attention. We have so many devices nowadays. We’ve got an e-this and an i-that. Here an e, there an i—everywhere an app for that.

E, i, e, i-phone.

Really the “devices” in this passage are all about the plans we make on our own. The English Standard Version calls them “the plans in the mind.” Have you ever had a plan in mind that you were all ready to plug in, only to find it wasn’t what the Lord had planned?

In a contest between our plans and His, I know I don’t need to tell you that there is no contest at all. The verse in Proverbs says that it’s His plan that will stand.

Struggling with “un’s”

Understanding that it’s the Lord’s plan and recognizing His call in our lives makes a big difference in those inevitable moments when we feel unworthy of His calling—or unprepared for His plan. Or a thousand other “un’s.”

When Isaiah received his call from God, his response was “woe” and “un.” “Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts” (Isaiah 6:5, HCSB).

The Lord God is the one who prepared Isaiah to fulfill his calling. He brought him all the way from “un” to the sure place of “Here I am. Send me,” (verse 8).

Isaiah was overwhelmed by the blazing holiness of God. That made his own unholiness so painfully, desperately obvious. But the Lord of Hosts took care of Isaiah’s need for cleansing. He readied Isaiah for His call and His plan.

Is there any “un” on your list He can’t take care of? No!

We serve the same Lord of Hosts. He will ready us for our call as surely as He did Isaiah. We don’t even need an app for that.

Though for the record, on the pizza side of the conversation, I’m still thinking my smart phone isn’t all that smart if there’s no pepperoni app.

What devices and plans of your own making have fallen by the wayside recently? What “un” in your life can you allow God to take care of today? (This post is a giveaway! Rhonda is giving away two copies of her new book “Messy to Meaningful!” Comment on this post to enter!)

 

Rhonda RheaRhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 13 books, including the new release, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer(messytomeaningful.com), co-authored with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, and writing partner and daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley have also teamed up for the hilarious Christian Rhonda Rhearomantic comedy, Turtles in the Road, with more fun fiction in the works. Rhonda also co-authors the Fix Her Upper series with Beth Duewel. She enjoys speaking at conferences and events coast to coast and serves on the publishing team of Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children.

 

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Have you settled for good enough faith?

good enough faith

I think I’ve settled in many ways. Settled into a life of faith that’s comfortable… easy… doable. After all, I’ve  grown and I’ve gone and I’ve served. Surely I can keep this comfortable pace. Isn’t this level of faith good enough? Isn’t “good enough” faith, good enough?

I’d never settle for a lukewarm latte if I ordered “extra hot.” And my husband and I didn’t live with it when the painter used the wrong color on our back door. So why am I satisfied with a good enough faith?

God calls us to push the boundaries of our comfort zone. To step into unfamiliar territory. To obediently follow Him into areas of service we can’t tackle in our own strength. Because only then will we depend on Him. Only then will He get the glory.

So why do I settle? Why do you settle?

Maybe it’s fear. Maybe we’re afraid that God will ask us to give up something we don’t want to give up. Or maybe we fear ridicule or failure.

Or maybe we simply love where we are too much. We don’t desire where God wants to take us. We don’t long to see His miraculous activity in the midst of our meager offering.

Paul didn’t settle for good enough faith

The apostle Paul never, ever settled. And he never shrunk back. He planted churches, shared the Gospel with kings, resuscitated the dead in Jesus’ name, and endured great persecution for Christ’s sake. Yet he never felt as though his faith was “good enough.” He never felt as though he had “arrived.”

Paul had been a rising star in the Jewish world. He had the world by the tail. But he left it all to follow Jesus. Yet even then, he wanted more. He would not stop pursuing Christ until he saw Him face to face:

 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

I guess the real question is this: Do I want Jesus more than I want to stay where I am? Do I long for more of Jesus more than I long for easy, comfortable, doable?

That’s a good question.

What about you? Do you long for Jesus more than… Or is your “good enough” faith good enough?

Other posts you might like:

7 Characteristics of a Mature Christian

6 Things you Might Not Know About the Apostle Paul

No Such Thing as Spiritual Holding

 

 

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Does Jesus Speak to You?

Does Jesus speak to Christians? Does God communicate with those who love Jesus and follow Him? That question came to national attention last week.

A Quick Review of the Controversy

It all started when former White House aid Omarosa Manigault Newman made derogatory comments about Vice-President Mike Pence’s faith on Celebrity Big Brother. Omarosa said Americans should be worried about the possibility of Pence as president because:

“He’s extreme. I’m Christian, I love Jesus, but he thinks Jesus tells him to say things… It’s scary.”

Then the cohosts of the TV talk show “The View” picked up the topic. Joy Behar, who says she is a Christian, said:

“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness if I’m not correct. Hearing voices.”

A couple of the other cohosts worked to balance her opinion, but the audience obviously sided with Behar. The conversation ended with the tone that anyone who claims to hear God speak isn’t quite right in the head. 

Then Vice-President Pence responded. He called for ABC to take a stand for religious tolerance, citing the millions of Americans who cherish their faith.

Does Jesus Speak to Christians?

I noticed that both Omarosa and Behar claim to be Christians. Yet, they think people who “hear” Jesus speak to them are either crazy or scary or both.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter what Omarosa or Behar or anyone else thinks. What matters is the truth. Does God speak to Christians?

The short answer is “yes.” God does indeed speak to believers. The Bible tells us God speaks to us.

In the well-known Christian book “Experiencing God,” written by Henry Blackaby and Claude King, the authors make this statement:

One critical point to understanding and experiencing God is knowing clearly when God is speaking. If the Christian does not know when God is speaking, he is in trouble at the heart of his Christian life!

What does the Bible say?

Although this topic needs much more time and space than a brief blog post, we can hit the highlights to confirm the truth that yes, indeed God speaks to us today.

The Bible tells us that before Jesus came, God spoke to His people through the prophets and in various ways (Hebrews 1:1). Examples fill the Bible – angelic visits, dreams and visions, fiery bushes and more. Now, in these “last days” – the time between Jesus’ post-resurrection ascension and His return – God speaks to us through His Son (Hebrews 1:2).

Jesus is present with His people, speaking to His people, today. The Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ – lives inside every true believer (Romans 8:9-11). We can hear God speak to us because His Spirit dwells with us.

The Spirit’s Job in Believers

Here are just a few of the things the Spirit does within believers that helps us to hear from God:

  • Gives Spiritual Understanding – The Spirit helps us understand the Bible and the things of God. Much of this seems like foolish gibberish to the world because they don’t have the Spirit to give them understanding  (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).
  • Testifies to Jesus – The Spirit always makes Jesus known to us. He reveals truth in our hearts and minds about Jesus (John 15:26).
  • Teaches and Reminds – The Spirit not only gives us understanding, He helps us see how God’s truth – the Bible – should be applied to our lives. He helps us see how God’s principles throughout Scripture work together. And when we need specific truths or principles for specific life situations, He brings those things to mind (John 14:26).
  • Guides into Truth – The Spirit helps us recognize God’s truth and distinguish it from error and false teaching. The Spirit shows us know how to specifically apply those truths to the current situations and relationships of our lives.

Ways God Speaks Today

So, how does the Spirit’s job translate into a Christian hearing God speak?

  • The Bible –  The Bible is the primary way God speaks to Christians today. In His Word, God has revealed Himself, His purposes, and His ways. As we read, and the Holy Spirit does His job, we “hear” Jesus speak. His Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12-13). The Holy Spirit wields it like a sword – to pierce our hearts and prick our minds with God’s truth. (See 11 Tips for Spending Quality Quiet Time with God)
  • Prayer – Christians have the very Spirit of God living inside us. When we pray we aren’t just tossing words into the air. And it isn’t a one-way conversation. In prayer, God uses His Spirit to bring us into alignment with His truth, with His will for us. The Spirit miraculously works in our hearts. The Spirit brings Scripture to mind that God wants us to apply to specific situations. The Spirit reminds us of ways we need to act, reach out, love, help, forgive. And when God speaks, we should respond.
  • Secondary Ways – Although the Bible and prayer are the primary ways God speaks to His children today, He will often confirm what He wants us to know through circumstances and the counsel of godly people. But, God will never “speak” to us in ways that contradict His Word.

So why does Omarosa, Behar, and many other “Christians” deny that God speaks to His children today? I can’t answer that for every individual, but there are two primary possibilities. First, they may be members of a religious group, but don’t have a saving relationship with Jesus. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the truth that God speaks to His children sounds like crazy foolishness. Second, they may be new, immature believers who are just beginning to learn God’s truth.

What about you? Do you hear Jesus speak? What would you say to a “Christian” who scoffs at the idea of God speaking today?

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7 Characteristics of a Mature Christian

spiritual maturity

Would you describe yourself as a mature Christian? How would you even know? Honestly, that term feels sort of subjective. What one person considers mature, another might not.

So, should we even worry about it? The quick answer is “yes.” First, the Bible makes it clear God wants us to be spiritually mature:

“…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Eph 4:13, NIV

 

The Greek word translated as “mature” in Ephesians 4:13 is teleios. It means to be “complete, perfect, brought to end, of full age.” Spiritual maturity is God’s goal for us.

In fact, our spiritual maturity is so important to God, He allows trials into our lives to grow our faith:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4

If our maturity is this important to God, perhaps we should take it more seriously. But how can we know if we’re growing spiritually? What does a mature Christian look like? Thankfully, we don’t have to depend on our opinion or best guess. The Bible tells us what spiritual maturity looks like.

7 Characteristics of a Mature Christian

The Bible gives us many marks of a growing believer, like perseverance and spiritual fruit, but the Bible specifically mentions the following 7 characteristics in conjunction with the Greek word teleios:

  1. Recognizes the difference between right and wrong – then does what is right (Hebrews 5:14)
  2. Not easily swayed by false teaching (Ephesians 4:13-16) – So grounded in the truth of God’s Word, she quickly recognizes falsehood.
  3. Rooted in love (Ephesians 4:13-16) – Our words and actions flow from love for our fellow believers.
  4. Serves the church (Ephesians 4:13-16) – A Christian cannot grow to her full potential apart from a vital connection to a local church. She must find her place of mutual service and encouragement.
  5. Lives with an eternal perspective (Philippians 3:13-15) – The reality of the spiritual and eternal drives her life. She purposefully strives to continual spiritual growth because she knows this life is temporary.
  6. Controls her tongue (James 3:2) – If a Christian has good control of her speech, you know she is on a path to maturity!
  7. Reflects God’s character to the world (Matthew 5:48) – God wants us to grow in spiritual maturity in order to reflect the character of Jesus to a watching world.

So how are you doing? What area do you struggle in the most? Why?

Want to be purposeful in your spiritual growth? You may find this post helpful: “5 Tips for Setting Spiritual Growth Goals.”

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The 5 Most Challenging Bible Verses

challenging Bible verses

Some verses in the Bible are easier to swallow than others. Even though I wholeheartedly believe them all, there are some I honestly just don’t like very much. In fact, some Bible verses are too challenging.

Let me explain.

Some verses, like “He gives strength to the weary…” and “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine…” cause me to throw my arms open wide and yell “Bring it on, Lord!”

But others cause me to sigh and take a deep breath and think, “Really? Isn’t that kind of difficult?”

5 Bible Verses that Challenge Me

Below are 5 verses that I find really challenging to fully embrace and live out every day. Oh, there are others too – and I may have a slightly different top 5 tomorrow – but these will definitely stay in at least the top 10 for the indefinite future.

  1. Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I really like the last half of this verse about God supplying my needs, oh yes! But when we read the whole thing in the context of the passage, we see the primary topic is worry. Jesus said we spend too much time and energy worrying about our needs. We allow worry to keep us from pursuing Jesus and His Kingdom. The challenge: To turn off the worry and turn to Jesus. Or better yet, turn to Jesus to turn off the worry!
  2. James 1:2 – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds...” James doesn’t waste any time with small talk in his letter. Essentially he says, “Dear Jewish believers, be full of joy when life punches you in the gut.” (My paraphrase of course.) Sounds unrealistic right? James says we can be joyful in spite of our circumstances because we know God plans to use them for our spiritual good and for His purposes. The challenge: To keep our eyes on the spiritual and eternal rather than the physical and temporary.
  3. Romans 12:2“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” God wants us to be like Jesus, not like the world around us. But truly, it’s like fighting a battle every day. Our culture constantly bombards us with values and behavior that is contrary to the character of Christ. The challenge: To strap on that spiritual armor, refuse to compromise, and yield ourselves to the Spirit’s transforming power. (Mandisa shares one battle story here.)
  4. John 15:12 – “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Okay, let’s be honest. Sometimes our fellow believers aren’t easy to love. Plus, did you notice that Jesus said we should love each other “as I have loved you.” Well, Jesus gave His life for us, so this is really extreme. He wants us to be willing to die for each other. To put others’ needs ahead of our own. To honor others over ourselves. The challenge: To take off pride and selfishness and put on humility and selflessness in order to genuinely love others.
  5. Galatians 2:20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Wait a minute. My life isn’t my life? Nope. Jesus purchased my life on the cross and it’s His to do with as He sees fit. But if I can remember this, the previous 4 challenging verses suddenly get a lot easy to live out. The challenge: To consciously choose every minute of every day to give my life to Jesus.

Jesus’ way may seem challenging. But the reality is, He only wants what’s best for us. His way is abundant and satisfying and joyful. His way is life.

Please feel free to disagree with my list. Or add to it! What Bible verses do you find the most challenging and why?

Other posts you may find helpful:

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5 Tips for Setting Spiritual Growth Goals for 2018

discipleship goals

This time of year, many of us reflect on the condition of our lives. We may evaluate the health of our bodies, our relationships, or our work situation. We may even “resolve” to change things. But if we’re really serious about improvement, we will set some goals and establish a plan to move forward. But have you ever considered doing the same with your spiritual health? The New Year is the perfect time to do some “spiritual evaluation” and set some goals for spiritual growth.

We can’t cause our spiritual growth. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to transform us into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). But God does expect our obedient and active cooperation (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). One way we can purposefully “train ourselves to be godly” (1 Tim 4:7-8) is through spiritual evaluation and goal setting.

This post includes both a “Discipleship Evaluation” tool and a “Spiritual Goals Worksheet” for you to do just that. But keep in mind, resolutions and goals are often hard to keep. Statistics show that, at best, only 46% of New Year’s resolutions are still kept six months into the year. People lose their resolve quickly because they set unattainable goals.

First, use this free Discipleship Evaluation form to honestly evaluate your current spiritual condition. This tool covers 17 different key discipleship areas. Your weakest areas can be great growth areas in 2017.

Next, set spiritual growth goals using the five tips below. Planning is not “unspiritual.” Living a life that glorifies God will not happen by accident. This free “Spiritual Goals Worksheet” walks you through specific areas of discipleship such as time with God, ministry, service, and Christian education.

Most importantly, ask God to guide you as you evaluate your spiritual health and set goals for growth. He will bring the spiritual transformation as you strive to live a live that pleases Him.

5 Tips for Setting Goals for Spiritual Growth

The following five tips will help us set personal discipleship goals that will keep us growing through the year:

  1. Concentrate your efforts. Set just one, two, or three goals at a time. Don’t spread yourself too thin. When you experience success then add another goal.
  2. Be realistic. Set attainable goals. If you don’t read your Bible regularly now, don’t set a goal to read the entire Bible in three months. Instead commit to read it 3 to 5 times per week.
  3. Think concretely. Set goals so progress can be measured. For instance, this goal is too ambiguous: I’m going to spend more time with God. Instead be concrete: I will read one Bible chapter and pray for 10 minutes five times a week.
  4. Include strategies. Develop strategies designed to move you toward your goals. If one goal is to memorize Scripture, determine how you will do that. What verses you will memorize? How often you will tackle a new one? What memorization techniques you will use?
  5. Create manageable steps. Break your overall goal into a series of smaller goals that are doable and will foster success.

How do you feel about setting spiritual goals? Have you ever set spiritual goals in the past?

This last group of resources focuses on a specific area of discipleship like quiet time, prayer, Bible reading, or Scripture Memory.

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5 Bible Reading Plans for the New Year

Do you plan to read your Bible regularly in 2018? Many of us start the year with good intentions, but regular time with God in His Word often falls by the wayside because we’ve failed to put a plan in place or because we’ve set the bar too high.

Planning is not “unspiritual.” Paul told Timothy to “train yourself to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:7) because real spiritual growth takes discipline and purposeful intent. “5 Tips for Setting Spiritual Growth Goals” will help you realistically plan for your personal spiritual growth.

5 Bible Reading Plans

A great place to begin is with a Bible reading plan. Haphazard reading will always be just that – haphazard. If you have a plan, then you have direction and structure. You never have to wonder, “What will I read today?”

Each of these 5 Bible reading plans below is for a full year. Some are more time-intensive than others. Look at each of them and pick one that will challenge you but not overwhelm you. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

For instance, if you are currently reading your Bible only for a few minutes just a few days a week, don’t try to read the Bible through in a year which requires several chapters 7 days a week. You may become discouraged quickly and give up. Instead, choose a plan that has smaller chunks of reading for 5 days a week. (Note: The first three plans were developed by Kathy Howard. The last two were developed by Dr. Doug Lamb, one of Kathy’s former pastors.)

5 Bible Reading Plans for 2018

  1. Key Character Bible Reading Plan – Spend 5 days a week discovering how God wove individual lives into His overall plan! From Abraham, Moses, and David to Peter, John, and Paul, God still uses His people in the Scriptures to impact His people today. With the life and work of Jesus Christ central to this Bible reading plan, it’s a daily experience you won’t want to miss.
  2. Christian Doctrine Bible Reading Plan – This 5-day-a-week plan walks you through the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith. The first quarter focuses on “Theology,” the study of God and His character. The second quarter on the nature of the Bible, mankind, and Christ. The third on “Soteriology,” the study of salvation. And the fourth on the Holy Spirit, the Church, and end times.
  3. Chronological Story Bible Reading Plan – Spend a year getting familiar with the big picture of the Bible. Read through all the major stories and key passages in five days a week.
  4. New Testament in a Year – This handy daily Bible reading guide will take you through the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs in one year.
  5. The Bible in a Year – Dr. Doug Lamb, developed this daily plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. He is glad to share it with you.

Pick a plan that works for you. Print it off and put it in your Bible. Get a journal or notebook to record insights from the Holy Spirit, God’s direction for you as your read, and your prayers to Him. May 2016 be a year marked by spiritual growth and wonderful time with our great God!

I’d love to hear from you! Share with us about your plan to read the Bible in 2018.

Some additional posts you may find helpful:

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A Christmas Devotional for You and Your Family

Christmas is just four days away. I hope we will all get a chance to take a break from the busy holiday preparations to prepare our hearts to celebrate our Savior. The following Christmas devotional can help us do just that. Use it alone in your quiet time or use it with your family. Some of my favorite Christmas ornaments inspired these thoughts. If you’d like, gather a few of your own Christmas ornaments to add a hands-on element to your Christmas devotional! (Christmas devotional in PDF for your use!)

The real reason we celebrate Christmas can easily be lost in our culture’s version of the holiday. But, many of the ornaments we use to decorate our trees and homes today remind us of the real Christmas story.

Christmas Devotional

The Christmas Angels

God’s messengers played a vital role in our Savior’s birth. The angels did not take God’s good news to kings or rulers or religious leaders. Instead, these mighty messengers visited the humble. The lowly. Those willing to hear, to believe, to receive.

The angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mary and gave a greeting that would change her life forever:

“Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Read Luke 2:29-38 for the whole encounter.)

Gabriel also visited Joseph, the carpenter betrothed to Mary:

“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” (Read Matthew 1:18-25 for the whole encounter.)

On the night Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord also appeared to shepherds in the fields surrounding Bethlehem:

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord!” (Read Luke 2:1-20 for the whole encounter.)

Question for reflection: How would you have reacted to the angel? Would you have run in fear? Listened with skepticism? Or humbly and joyfully accepted God’s great news about our Savior? 

The Christmas Star

Stars at Christmas remind us that God longs for us to know Jesus. The Christmas star appeared to magi in the east and led them far away to Bethlehem so they would find the baby King.

“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. …The star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” (Read Matthew 2:1-12 for their story.)

But the star also reminds us of Jesus Himself, the bright, morning star who lights our hearts.

Time of Thanksgiving: Thank God for the guidance He gives to bring you to Himself. And thank Him for Jesus, the true and eternal Light.

The Christmas Crown

The crown reminds us that Jesus – that tiny babe born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago – is our glorious, eternal Lord and King.

Centuries before Jesus’ birth, the prophet Isaiah foretold His eternal reign:

“Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isaiah 9:7)

The magi from the east endured that long journey for one reason – to worship the King:

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star when it rose and have come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:3).

Yet many failed to acknowledge Jesus as the divine, eternal King. Thirty-three years later, when He was arrested, beaten, and condemned to die, the Roman soldiers ironically mocked Him:

“And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head and put a reed in His right hand. And kneeling before Him, they mocked Him saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!'” (Matthew 27:28-30).

But God’s truth, will, and purposes prevail. Jesus was, is, and will always be our King eternal!

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever’” (Revelation 11:15)

Time to worship the King eternal! Alone or with your family, sing a favorite carol, hymn, or praise song that acknowledges Jesus as King!

Here is this Christmas Devotional in PDF format for easy printing!

I pray that you and your family have a joyful Christmas and a year ahead experiencing the glory of Jesus our King!

  • You and your family might also enjoy this Christmas Trivia Quiz! Find out how well you know the real Christmas story! 
  • If joy is hard to find this Christmas, you may be encouraged by this post, Messy Christmas
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6 Christmas Bible Reading Plans

The Christmas season has officially begun. More than likely, activities like shopping, baking, and gift wrapping fill your December to-do list. If we aren’t purposeful, all the holiday activity can easily overshadow the reason we celebrate.

Christmas Bible Reading

I have a challenge for us – for you and for me. Let’s commit to putting Jesus at the top of our list every day between now and Christmas. Let’s make time with Him each morning a priority. (Check out these practical tips for having a Quiet Time.)

What would that look like? For me, it means sitting with a mug of hot coffee, my Bible, and my journal before I start my daily activities. I read and meditate on God’s Word to renew my mind with His truth. I talk with God in prayer, sharing my heart and listening for His direction.

Over the years, I have discovered that I need the discipline of a Bible reading plan. This great discipleship tool helps me be intentional and regular with my Bible reading. For a brief few moments I contemplated developing a plan to use and to share with you. But then I realized there is no need to reinvent the wheel and decided to find out what Christmas Bible Reading Plans are already available.

6 Christmas Bible Reading Plans for the Season

I’ve done a little internet searching and found 5 great Bible reading plans for the Christmas season.

  1. “Christmas Bible Reading Plan” on BibleStudyTools.com – “Designed for personal or family reading times, these 25 New Testament readings highlight the birth of Jesus and the purpose for His coming. Related Old Testament passages are also featured daily.”
  2. Spend Christmas Together– This 25-day advent plan is designed to help you slow down and prepare your heart for the coming of the Savior.
  3. “Rediscovering the Christmas Season” – Another YouVersion.com reading plan, this 25-day plan combines Old Testament and New Testament readings.
  4. “All the Colors of Christmas” – This family advent devotional by Focus on the Family has a small price tag but would be a great activity for you and your family to do together!
  5. “Family Christmas Bible Reading Plan” – I found this 25-day plan on the website for a church in Ontario, Canada. It focuses on the purpose of Jesus’ coming.
  6. “Bite of Bread: Bible Reading Plan for Christmas Week” – This 7-day plan by Christians author and blogger Andy Lee at Daily Grace focuses on the significance of the name “Jesus.”

What are some things you plan to do to keep Jesus at the top of your Christmas to-do list? Let’s talk!

Other helpful resources:

 

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Processing the Tragedy in Sutherland Springs

The tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas has been heavy on my heart and mind since I first heard about it during lunch on Sunday. I have been praying for everyone in that small community – the church members, their families, those ministering to them, law enforcement officials. And the family of the shooter.

Those of us watching from a distance feel the shock waves. Every time it comes to mind, let us pray. Let us ask God to comfort them with His presence. And may He protect them from anger and bitterness. May their grief cause them to draw near to God and not turn away.

Sutherland Springs, Texas

Many – those directly affected and those of us watching – may be struggling with those age-old questions. Questions like:

Where was God? Why did God allow this horrible act of violence?

We must grab hold of the truth we know from God’s Word and remind others of that truth. God did not cause this devastation. Yet neither was He unaware or powerless. So again, why?

Why did God allow this?

I don’t have all the answers. But I know, I know, that God is loving, kind, and faithful. And He is good all the time. People make choices. They even make horrific choices that lead to horrific acts. But those acts do not negate who God is. And I also know that God was there. He is still there. And in the wake of this evil, He will do what only He can do.

This morning, I read Psalm 91:3-4 with the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on my mind. As I read, “He will deliver you… He will cover you… you will not fear,” I asked God what that looked like for His children in that church on Sunday morning.

God pointed me back to the truth of His Word. the Bible says that we will indeed have trouble in this world. But God also promises to be with us in the waters, to walk with us through the fire (Isaiah 43:1-2). He promises to protect and deliver. I believe all this is true.

Was God in Sutherland Springs?

God was in Sutherland Springs on Sunday morning. And He was still God. Evil men might choose to kill, but they can never take what only God can give – spiritual life, eternal life with Jesus. Sometimes God delivers His people from trouble. Sometimes He delivers us in the midst of trouble. And sometimes He delivers us through trouble. But He always, always delivers us.

On Sunday morning, God delivered 26 people through trouble, all the way to His side in glory. The world is full of trouble. There are days when evil seems to prevail. But under God’s protective arm is always the safest place for us to be.

Yes, let us pray. But let us also watch for God’s power and activity in the midst of this heartbreak. And let us glorify His name even as we don’t fully understand. We can trust that He does. Our all-powerful, sovereign God will not allow His purposes to be derailed. Praise His name.

A few helpful links:

 

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