Resource Library

Tuesday
Jan172017

What it means to surrender everything

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…

Psalm 24:1

A family who had just been called to the mission field sold almost all of their belongings and packed up everything else in their station wagon. They were on their way to meet the ship that would take them and their car to Okinawa, Japan, and stopped to rest and enjoy one last meal in America.

While they were inside the restaurant, however, a thief broke into their car and took everything that was in it. The only thing that was left was the car itself. The family’s collective heart sank.

Then the father told the others, “We were holding tight to the things that were in that car, and God has turned our hands over, slapped them, and everything has fallen out. Now we’re ready to go.” 

Everything we have belongs to God. It’s not usually very hard to admit that. But what is hard is when things are taken away and that truth becomes our reality. When we lose things that mean so much to us, however, we can continue to focus on what we’ve lost or we can give it over to God.

The truth is that nothing takes God by surprise. When we lose things, and even when we lose people, God is still in control. And everything (along with everyone) is His anyway. Hold your possessions openhandedly, remembering you’re only a steward over what truly belongs to God!

  

Prayer Challenge:

Pray that God would lead you to live in an openhanded life, acknowledging everything you have is His.

 

Questions for Thought: 

Think of a time when you lost something that was very precious to you. How did you feel?

How does thinking of your most prized possessions as belonging to God help you when such things become lost or broken? 

Monday
Jan162017

Shepherd those God gives you

Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.

— 2 Timothy 4:9-11

Years ago, a faithful pastor had a meeting with his local supervisor for his review. The superior told him, “I’m really concerned. Only one person has been added to your church this year – and he’s only a boy.” The pastor returned to his church that day discouraged.

As he was praying in the sanctuary, he heard someone walk up behind him. It was the one boy who had been added to his congregation that year. The boy asked, “Pastor, do you think I could become a preacher or missionary some day?” 

The pastor encouraged him to pray and seek God about it. The lad was Robert Moffat who was destined to open Africa to the Gospel of Christ. Years later when Moffat spoke in London, a young doctor heard him say, “I have seen in the morning sun the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been.”

The young doctor, deeply moved by Moffat’s message, was none other than David Livingstone. In 1840, he sailed for Africa where he labored for Jesus for more than three decades – all of this happened because a faithful pastor encouraged his “one convert.”

When it comes to sharing the Gospel with others, don’t get discouraged if only a small number ever respond. Shepherd faithfully those the Lord has given you – because you never know the impact they may one day have for the Kingdom!

  

Prayer Challenge:

Pray and ask God to bring people into your life whom you can lead spiritually.

 

Questions for Thought:

Why do you think so many fall into the trap of believing that having a lot of followers means success in ministry?

Who are a few people in your life today whom you can faithfully guide toward Jesus?

Sunday
Jan152017

How God leads you through your fears

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

A story is told of a general in the Persian army who captured spies and sentenced them to death. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between going before a firing squad or walking through a big black door.

Almost without fail, prisoners would choose the firing squad. When one of his commanders asked the general why so few picked the door, he said, “People always prefer the known and fear the unknown. But what they don’t know is that on the other side of that big black door is freedom.” 

Quite often, the best opportunities we have in life lie beyond big doors of the great unknown. Yet instead of walking through those doors, most people are content to remain in their current “safe” circumstances, completely missing out on the opportunities that await them on the other side.

Don’t be afraid of the big, foreboding doors of life. Be willing to face your fears and jump into new opportunities that draw you out of your comfort zone. God is in control. Trust Him to help you overcome your fears and He’ll bring you into a new reliance on Him as your provider!

 

Prayer Challenge: 

Ask God to bring you into situations where He can help you overcome your fears and develop a deeper trust in Him.

 

Questions for Thought:

Amidst all the chaos going on in the world today, what is your biggest fear right now?

How might God be calling you to overcome that fear and develop a deeper trust in Him?

Thursday
Jan122017

Can we know if the gospel is true?

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

— John 20:31

Professional golfer Tommy Bolt was known to be very particular about taking advice from his caddies. Once while playing in Los Angeles, Bolt told his caddy, “Don’t say a word to me. And if I ask you something, just answer yes or no.” 

At one point, Bolt approached the ball under a tree where he had a very tough shot to make. He looked at his caddy and asked, “Five-iron?” 

“No, Mr. Bolt.”

“What do you mean, ‘No’?” And with that, Bolt took out his five-iron and hit the ball two feet from the hole. He smirked at his caddy and said, “Now what do you think? You can talk now.” 

“Mr. Bolt,” the caddy said, “that wasn’t your ball.”

It’s possible to be very sure about something, yet still be far from the truth. All you have to do is take a look around the world today and see there are many people who are passionate about different things. And not everything can be true. So someone has to be wrong! 

This is why we can’t base our search for truth on our passions. We have to look for what’s credible. And with all the spiritual beliefs out there today, none of them is as credible as the one that claims Jesus was raised from the dead. It’s as provable as any other event of its time! 

Christianity isn’t right because you believe it. It’s right because it’s true, and that’s why you can believe it!

  

Prayer Challenge: 

Pray and ask God to confirm in your heart the truth of Jesus’ teaching, the reality of His death and resurrection, and the presence of His Spirit in your life today.

 

Questions for Thought:

Think of something you really believed was true but turned out to be wrong. How did it make you feel?

When we share Christ with others who have different beliefs from us, how can we present God’s truth in a loving way?

Wednesday
Jan112017

Renew your support to encourage more seniors in 2017!

Your generous gift of renewed support below will enable Senior Living to continue ministering to the seniors we serve globally in the year ahead – as well as seize exciting ministry opportunities like…

  • Encouraging even more people every day through our Daily Living Devotionals.
  • Keeping our website constantly updated with more encouraging teaching for seniors who use it as a regular study resource.
  • Increasing our capacity to respond to the growing number of prayer requests we receive each week from people all over the world.

So thank you for renewing your support with a generous gift below. We can’t wait to see how God uses our partnership in the year ahead to encourage more seniors to embrace the life He intends!

Wednesday
Jan112017

What are your gifts?

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6

A church pastor received a Christmas card with a note in it from a lady in his congregation. She was very complimentary about his preaching, and even compared him with Billy Graham. She finished by writing, “I think you are one of the really great preachers of all time.”

Later that day, he showed the note to his wife. She asked, “Who is that woman?” He replied, “She’s a very intelligent woman in the congregation who loves great preaching.” He then asked his wife, “How many great preachers do you suppose there really are in the world?”

She replied, “One less than you think.” 

It’s easy sometimes to allow compliments to go to our heads. But one of the real marks of spiritual maturity is being able to acknowledge your strengths while maintaining a posture of humility. It’s a delicate balance, but one that has to be kept.

Don’t be afraid to recognize your gifts and talents. But never forget who gave them to you. Do everything you do to God’s glory, and make sure He gets the credit for your success!

 

Prayer Challenge:

Thank God today for the gifts and talents He’s given you.

 

Questions for Thought:

What are you really good at doing?

How have you seen God use your gifts and talents for His glory in the past? And how can He use them in the future?

Tuesday
Jan102017

How to stay calm when you want to panic

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

— Psalm 56:3-4

Apollo Astronaut Captain Alan Bean once told a story about how test pilots evaluate problems they encounter on flights. When something goes wrong, they simply ask, “Is this thing still flying in the right direction?” And if the answer is yes, there is no need to overreact. 

He told about the takeoff of Apollo 12 when the spacecraft was hit by lightning. The entire console began to glow with orange and red trouble lights. There was a huge temptation to “Do something!” 

But instead, the pilots asked themselves, “Is this thing still flying in the right direction?” They let the lights glow as they addressed the problems one-by-one. And Apollo 12 made it to the moon just as planned. 

Life is full of pressure situations… times when it’s tempting to overreact and do something drastic out of fear. But just like those Apollo astronauts, it’s important to ask ourselves, “Am I still flying in the right direction? Am I still doing God’s will?” If the answer is yes, then there’s no need to panic. We simply address our issues one-by-one and stay on course.

God’s trajectory will never let you down. Stay on course and trust in His plan no matter what else happens!

 

Prayer Challenge:

Pray that God would give you a steadfast trust in Him so that when the unexpected happens, you’ll trust in His direction.

 

Questions for Thought: 

When high-pressure situations hit, how do you normally react? Do you tend to stay calm or panic?

When you’re tempted to panic, what’s one way you can affirm your trust in God in that moment?

Monday
Jan092017

The power of community

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

— Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Harvard professor Robert Putnam wrote a book years ago called Bowling Alone, which documents the decline in community life in America since the 1960s. The title comes from a trivial but telling example: the percentage of adults who belong to a bowling league today is only about a quarter of what it was in the 1960s.

Other examples he cites are…

  • The percentage of people who volunteer in a political campaign – stuffing envelopes, making phone calls, going door to door – is today about half what it was in the late 1960s.          
  • Active membership in local clubs and organizations, like the PTA, has dropped by about half, percentage-wise, since the 1970s.       
  • People are visiting one another less frequently, having friends over for dinner less frequently, getting together to play cards less frequently.

These are just a few examples showing that just about every objective measure of participation in community and civic life is declining. People are disconnected more than ever. So it’s no wonder we’re more isolated and more depressed than we’ve ever been.

God never created us to live life alone. So even if you struggle to make friends, do it anyway. Stay involved in social gatherings and clubs. Not only will you be encouraged yourself, you’ll have a platform to build meaningful relationships and share the Gospel with others.

 

Prayer Challenge:

Pray that God would help you continue to build meaningful relationships with others.

 

Questions for Thought:

Can you name three people with whom you have built a close friendship?

What are some practical steps you can take to start getting more involved in others’ lives?

Thursday
Jan052017

How to make good choices by looking ahead

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

— James 3:5

In a small village in Borneo, well-intentioned health workers once sprayed the straw huts with the now-illegal substance, DDT. The purpose of the spraying was to control the mosquito population, thereby reducing cases of life-threatening malaria among the tribe. Little did they realize the unintended consequences they’d incur.
 
The spray didn’t kill just the mosquitos. It also killed the lizards that normally inhabited the thatch walls of the huts. The village cats then ate the lizards and died also. That resulted in an unrestrained influx of rats into the village.
 
Not only that, but the lizards’ demise left the population of straw-consuming caterpillars free to reproduce. They eventually gobbled up the straw roofs of the huts.
 
Almost every action has unintended consequences. Sometimes they’re harmless; other times they aren’t. But it’s important, as believer in Christ, for us to think through the consequences of our actions.
 
For example, before we repeat something we heard about someone else, it’s important to stop and think about how it may impact that person. It might cause us to think twice before speaking!
 
Be mindful of the consequences of your actions and make wise choices to do what’s right!

 

Prayer Challenge

Pray that God would keep you mindful of the consequences your actions have.

 

Questions for Thought

Think of a time when you did something that caused unintended negative consequences. What happened?

How might looking ahead thoughtfully keep a situation like that from happening again?

Wednesday
Jan042017

How to shine a light in the world

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

— Matthew 5:16

There was a young salesman early in his career who was disappointed about losing a big sale. He was talking with his manager, and told him, “Well, I guess it just proves you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”
 
The manager replied, “Son, take my advice: Your job is not to make him drink. Your job is to make him thirsty.”
 
That’s a lot like how Jesus told us our evangelistic life should be. Our character, our conduct, and our speech should be so filled with Christ that it creates a thirst for the Gospel in those who don’t have it.
 
If a lost person took an honest look at your work life, your family life, your social life, or your personal life, would it point them to Jesus? In other words, would opening these parts of your life to others make them thirst for the peace, hope, and love you have in Jesus Christ?
 
No one is perfect. But even in our imperfections, we can live our lives in such a way that we shine a light in the world and create a thirst in others for the Savior!

 

Prayer Challenge

Ask God to make you a light in the darkness, so that others would thirst for the Gospel.

 

Questions for Thought:

Think of someone you know who really exemplifies the Gospel in how they live. What character traits do they have that make such an impact?

In what areas of your life do you feel like you’re showing the Gospel to others? Are there any areas where you aren’t?

 

Tuesday
Jan032017

Staying steady in the ups and downs of life

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

— Hebrews 13:8

 

Many years ago, the Grand Rapids Press reported a story about a man who owned a small foreign car. He was bragging constantly about the amazing gas mileage he was getting. So his friends decided to have a little fun. Each night, one of them would sneak over to the car and pour a few gallons of gas into the tank.
 
It wasn’t long before the owner began to brag even more… boasting of getting as much as 90 miles per gallon! All the while, the pranksters laughed when he left the room. But what was even more fun to watch was when they stopped refilling the tank. The poor owner couldn’t figure out what was happening to his car!
 
It’s been said that disappointment is the difference between expectations and reality. We often play out in our minds how we expect certain things will happen. But circumstances are almost always different than we thought, and events often unfold differently than we planned. These changes cause us to experience emotional peaks and valleys.
 
What’s important to realize in times like these is that we aren’t the ones who are in control. When our expectations aren’t met by a person or a situation, we calmly and confidently acknowledge that God is a loving King who seeks our best in everything.
 
Trust God in the ups and downs of life. He’ll never let you down!

 

Prayer Challenge

 Ask God to give you steadfast trust in Him in the ups and downs of life.

 

Questions for Thought

Think of a time when you were extremely up or down emotionally. What were the circumstances that put you there?

How might have fully trusting in God’s control helped you in that situation?

 

Monday
Jan022017

Finding God’s will in your trials

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

— 1 Corinthians 10:13

A man noticed an emperor moth struggling to emerge through a small hole in its cocoon, and decided he would try to assist it. So he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the cocoon. The little moth emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
 
Sadly, the moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
 
Later the man learned the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening was God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight. By depriving the moth of a struggle, he deprived the moth of health.
 
When the struggles of life come our way, it’s natural to want to find the easiest way out of them we can. But the easiest way out may not be what God intended – because our struggles often make us stronger.
 
So instead of jumping at your first chance to get out of a trial, ask God what He’s doing through your trial. He’ll lead you out – but not one minute before He’s done using your struggle for your good and His glory.

 

Prayer Challenge

Ask God to give you His perspective on the trials you face, and to show you His purpose in them.

 

Questions for Thought:

How do you think your perspective on your struggles might change if you saw them the way God does?

What trial are you facing today that you can see God using for your good and His glory?

Sunday
Jan012017

Religion or relationship: the choice is yours

For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

— Romans 3:28

The famous British music conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham, didn’t particularly care for the music of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. Charged with conducting a Williams symphony, Beecham found himself completely bored during rehearsals. At one point, he began mindlessly beating time while his mind went elsewhere.
 
Once he noticed the orchestra had stopped playing, he asked the first violinist, “Why aren’t you playing?” to which he replied, “It’s finished, Sir Thomas.”
 
Beecham looked down at his score. Embarrassed he sighed, “So it is.”
 
Many times in the Christian life, it can be easy to simply ‘go through the motions.’ You go to church, you pray, you read your Bible a few times a week, and you’re left thinking, “Is that it?”
 
But the answer is “No.” That’s not it! In fact, God has so much more for you in the Christian life than simply a list full of tasks you need to complete. He wants you to have a deep, intimate faith relationship with Him!
 
Instead of living a task-focused Christian life, which will inevitably lead to boredom, focus your faith on having a vibrant faith relationship with your Savior. When you go from religion to relationship, you’ll experience joy and excitement in your spiritual life!

 

Prayer Challenge

Ask God to show you what it means to focus your faith on relationship with Jesus instead of on a list of ‘dos’ and ‘don’t’s.’

 

Questions for Thought:

Why do you think many people feel more comfortable having a ‘religion’ than having a relationship with Jesus?

What would a more intimate walk with Jesus look like in your life today?

 

Thursday
Dec292016

Overcoming the fear of sharing the gospel

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 

2 Timothy 1:7

A condemned prisoner awaiting execution was given the usual privilege of choosing his last meal. The prison guards looked in bewilderment when the meal arrived. It was a plate full of mushrooms!

The prisoner sat down and started eating the mushrooms one-by-one while the guards stood by silently. Finally, after he had eaten the last one, a guard spoke up and asked, “How was it?”

“Delicious,” replied the prisoner. 

“So I have to ask,” the guard blurted out. “Why a plate full of mushrooms? I’ve never seen you eat a single one before.”

“Well,” replied the prisoner, “I always wanted to try them, but was afraid before now.”

How many people today live their lives out of fear because they’re afraid to do something new? Some are terribly afraid of sharing the gospel because of how they think others will react. Yet they’ve never really even tried it.

When you do something out of your comfort zone like talk about Jesus, you’ll likely find it’s not as scary as you thought. So make it a point to weave Jesus into conversations. You may be surprised how God uses you to share His message of hope with someone else!

 

Prayer Challenge:

Pray that God would give you the opportunity and courage to bring up Jesus in a conversation with someone who doesn’t know Him.

 

Questions for Thought:

When you think about sharing the gospel with a lost person, what kind of emotions does that bring up?

How might your life look differently if instead of acting out of fear, you fully trusted that God wants to use you to bring others to Him?

Wednesday
Dec282016

Are you hoping or wishing?

“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”

Psalm 39:7

Eugene Peterson, who translated The Message Bible, points out that what a lot of people call “hope” is really something different. It's wishing, not hoping: and wishing and hoping are not the same thing.

He says, “Wishing is something all of us do. It projects what we want or think we need into the future. Just because we wish for something good or holy we think it qualifies as hope. It does not. Wishing extends our egos into the future; hope grows out of our faith. Hope is oriented toward what God is doing; wishing is oriented toward what we are doing.”

“Hope,” he continues, “means being surprised, because we don't know what is best for us or how our lives are going to be completed. To cultivate hope is to suppress wishing – to refuse to fantasize about what we want, but live in anticipation of what God is going to do next.” 
 

When Christ came into the world, He was the Messiah people hoped for, but not the one many wished for. If most people had their way, Christ would have been born in a grand palace – a place fit for a king. But God had other plans – plans that included Christ being made low, born in a humble stable. 

But isn’t that so much better? We don’t have a Savior who looks down on us from high. He became like us so that He could save us. What a wonderful blessing that Christ fulfilled hope, not a wish!


Prayer Challenge:

Thank God that Christ came exactly as He planned – not in splendor but in humility.

 

Questions for Thought:

Why do you think Jesus was born and lived much of His life in such humble circumstances?

What does Christ’s humility teach you about putting aside selfish ambition?

Wednesday
Dec282016

Where to find the strength you need to keep going

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Years ago when the New York Yankees were managed by Ralph Houk, baseball game schedules were much more demanding. In fact, teams usually played at least one double-header every week. Occasionally, a player would get sick of the grind and ask for permission to sit out a game. 

“I know how you feel,” Houk would respond. “Sure, you can take the day off. But I want you to at least just play one inning since you’re already in the lineup. After that, you can have the rest of the day off.” 

The player would do as Houk requested. But after the first inning, he would almost invariably get caught up in the spirit of the game and play it out until the end!

Often when we’re tired and don’t feel like going to church, praying, or spending time in God’s Word, the enemy can come against us and try to deter us from taking the first step. But if we’ll take that first step, we almost always find the next one is a bit easier.

When you feel worn out, tired, or discouraged, make the effort to take the first step forward. And above all else, trust in Jesus to give you rest and strength for each day. When you do, you may find moving forward is easier than you thought!

 

Prayer Challenge:

Ask God to give you the rest and energy you need to take the next step forward, wherever the enemy is trying to push you back.

 

Questions for Thought:

Where in your life today do you feel the enemy’s resistance to keep you from making the first step to move forward?

What first steps can you take to move forward in those areas?

Tuesday
Dec272016

What can kids teach you about heaven?

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 

Matthew 19:13-14

In her memoirs, First Lady Rosalynn Carter told of some of the odd things she learned about White House history when she was there. One thing she learned was that the children of James A. Garfield would often have pillow fights in the East Room. And Teddy Roosevelt’s five kids once took a pony into a second-floor bedroom after riding it up the elevator! 

The old saying goes that “kids will be kids.” No truer words have been spoken. Children are often loud, rambunctious, overly energetic, and lacking in tact and social skills. But while it can be tempting to think that kids today are exceptionally worse than kids in years gone by, the truth is that kids have always been, well, kids!

Keeping that in mind, we see in today’s passage how Jesus dealt with kids. These kids were like most others: noisy and probably a bit annoying to those around them. And the disciples didn’t want them around Jesus because they thought He was too important to waste His time with kids.

But Jesus said something that was completely unexpected: “Let the little children come to me….”

Yes, kids are loud and can drain your energy. But Jesus loves them. Welcome children into your life. Learn from their sense of enthusiasm and curiosity about the attitude Jesus wants you to have toward His Kingdom. Let the little children come!

 

Prayer Challenge:

Pray that God would give you a heart to spend time with children and learn about His Kingdom through them.

 

Questions for Thought:

What is your general attitude toward children today? Do you like spending time with them?

Who are some children in your life today with whom you can make an effort to spend more time and from whom you can learn about God’s Kingdom?

Monday
Dec262016

The key to avoiding spiritual blindness

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

In November of 1991, a freak dust storm caused a massive pileup along Interstate 5 near Coalinga, California. Over a dozen people were killed, and many more were injured as the massive cloud reduced visibility to zero.

By the end of the storm, a three-mile trail of twisted, burning vehicles lay in its wake. It was then that what happened began to make sense. It wasn’t just one collision. Rather, over the course of the storm, motorists continued to drive blindly ahead into the disaster.

How many people, like those motorists, drive blindly ahead into spiritual disaster? They go about their days and weeks making decisions like normal, but failing to realize that the road they’ve put themselves on will ultimately lead them into harm.

So how do we steer clear of being spiritually blindsided? We stop trusting in ourselves and let God’s Word lead us. We don’t do what “feels right,” but what we know is right because we’ve searched the Scriptures. Because when the things of the world keep us from seeing clearly, you can trust God’s Word to bring clarity and conviction! 

 

Prayer Challenge:

Ask God to use His Word to guide the path of your life and bring clarity and conviction where you need it.

 

Questions for Thought:

Think of a time when you did what you thought was right, but it led you down the wrong path.

What can you do to make sure God’s Word is constantly guiding your path?

Thursday
Dec222016

Is God in your Christmas?

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

—  John 1:14

Years ago at Christmastime, a schoolteacher in England oversaw the construction of a manger scene in a corner of her classroom. The students were so excited and delighted to set up the stable and cover the floor with real straw. Then they arranged the figures of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and the animals – all facing a little crib in which a tiny doll represented the infant Jesus.

One little boy named Phillip spent the entire day engrossed with the scene. He didn’t pay attention to a single word the teacher said. As she was teaching her math lesson, she noticed the preoccupied boy with a puzzled look on his face. She finally asked him, “Phillip, do you have a question?”

With his eyes still glued to the manger scene, the boy said slowly, “Well, yes. Where does God fit in?”

That’s a question a lot of people are asking this Christmas. In the midst of commercialism, secularism, and all the complications the holidays bring, where does God fit in?

The truth is, keeping God in our Christmas celebrations is up to us. You can have a joyous holiday season, but if you leave God out, you miss the entire point!

So keep God in your Christmas celebrations. Invite him to sit at your table, to be with you as you gather with friends and family, and to remind you in your personal time that He is the reason for the season!

 

Prayer Challenge:

Pray that God would be ever present in your Christmas celebrations this year!

 

Questions for Thought:

Why do you think the Christmas holiday is very often separated from God?

What are some tangible steps you can take to keep God in your Christmas celebrations?

Wednesday
Dec212016

What splits history in two?

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

— 1 Corinthians 1:20

Just about every country in the world has adopted a calendar that uses Christ’s birth as its base. World history is split into two not on the basis of the birth of great conquerors like Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar. Nor is it divided on the basis of great thinkers like Socrates or Aristotle.

Rather, history is split into two on the basis of the birth of a Man, who conquered not the lands but the hearts of the people for God, whose life-transforming message was so simple that even a simpleton could understand. 

So the question we need to ask ourselves is, ‘Do we have a B.C. and A.D. experience ourselves?’ Is your life markedly different after Christ than before? Or, have you confessed Jesus with your lips while your heart has yet to be “all in”?

The birth of Christ is the most significant event in this history of the world – and in the history of us. Just as our epochs are divided into B.C. and A.D., so are our lives with respect to the moment we trust Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. 

This Christmas, take time to focus on the new life Christ gives to you. Recommit to Him and let him take you further from your B.C. and deeper into your A.D.!

 

Prayer Challenge:

Ask God to help you move further from your B.C. and closer to Him through Jesus Christ!

 

Questions for Thought:

Why do you think many people appear to trust Jesus, but never truly experience a changed heart? 

What might God want to do in your heart this Christmas to bring you closer to Him?