Are you going in the right direction? If so, how is your pace? Are you running, or is it a steady walk? Maybe you’re at a stop sign.
If you’re running, you will soon be out of breath. On the other hand, a steady walk means you’re making progress and allowing time to evaluate your surroundings. The stop sign means one of two things. You have come to a complete stop in your progress for the Lord. The second allows you to look in different directions to see if interference is coming your way. Careful observation will enable you to progress toward the Lord’s destination safely.
Joshua observed Israel’s actions over the years. He warned them not to do as their ancestors had, nor as the neighboring Amorites did in worshipping false gods. Finally, Joshua made a public declaration. “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15 NLT).
There comes a time in our lives when we must decide. Will we choose to do what is right or follow the crowd and those around them? To be a God-fearing individual versus a crowd-pleasing follower is the choice.
Ultimately, everyone makes that choice. Acceptance or isolation. A guilty conscience or one of obedience. Joshua chose God for himself and his family. Consequently, Israel decided to follow the Lord.
Correct decisions can be tough decisions, but in the end, right always wins.
Distractions are everywhere. Somebody or something wants your time. Family, friends, or jobs all want a part of you. Your time here on earth is irreplaceable. You can’t go back and live part of your life again. Your time is always a one-and-done scenario. Discerning the necessary priorities is a personal dilemma.
Your desires have a wide range to bring them into focus. Which ones will migrate to the forefront and be pushed back in the priority order? If you’re a kind, giving individual, you allow the desire of others to take precedence over your goals. However, a focused individual will schedule new requests in some order in your list of things to do.
Staying focused is your mission regardless of the interruptions. Without goals, your project will never achieve your desired end. With the completion in mind, you can push aside all interference and intrusions while focusing on the undertaking at hand.
Keeping your goal before you allows you to readjust your focus and stay on your destination path. You may need post-it notes plastered in front of you to keep you on track. Whatever it takes to eliminate the distractions. Remember your goal. Discern what is best and proper to reach your desired destination.
The wonder of Christmas. The special day when most of the world stops and celebrates in their own way.
The celebration two thousand years ago was special too. The unusual event of the Lord’s conception happened. Two young people, Joseph and Mary, rejoiced over the birth of God’s Son.
There was no room in the inn, so the world’s Savior was born in a barn. His first bed was a feeding trough. The barn was quiet; only the animals knew of Jesus’s arrival. But the angels announced elsewhere with praise the Messiah was nearby. In Bethlehem.
Shepherds were frightened by the angels, but they were also amazed. The heavenly host announced the birth of the Messiah. Why them? Why in the open fields did the angels come to them? Whatever the reason, the sheep watchers scurried off to Bethlehem to see the Son of God.
The barn had its first visitors, shepherds, who were in awe of the baby Messiah. Maybe they didn’t realize they were the first to see our Lord. These flock-protectors didn’t know the miracles making the Lord’s birth possible. But there they stood in amazement. Jesus, the King of kings, was here on earth before their very eyes.
Wise men saw a new star in the heavens. The new phenomenon was a magnet saying follow me. Were these men the only ones on earth who saw a star moving? They followed its direction by night. Their faithfulness paid off. They saw the boy of miraculous birth. In their worship, they left gifts of gratitude. The gold, frankincense, and myrrh provided the support necessary for Jesus’s parents pilgrimage to Egypt.
As you read scripture, notice God’s way of providing for the gospel’s advancement. God still directs his children.
Ready or not, here I come. The words of hide-and-go-seek ring as true as they did 2,000 years ago. The small town of Bethlehem was unprepared for the arrival of the King of kings. The local innkeeper was overbooked. His only suggestion for Joseph and his pregnant wife was the barn out back. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law to redeem…” (Galatians 4:4 ESV).
The timing of the Lord is always right. Man often disagrees, doubting that the events are best for himself. The innkeeper in Bethlehem wasn’t accommodating. Neither was Herod, the Roman official. The local priests knew the correct location for the Messiah’s birth but not the timing.
The shepherds in the nearby fields were scared when the angels appeared and proclaimed the Lord’s birth. But they responded positively to the divine announcement and sought the Lord. They found Jesus in the inn’s barn lying in a feeding trough. The only place ready for the Lord was a building out back for animals.
Is it any wonder that today’s society has the busyness of life? Many seem to miss the reason for the season—celebrating the birth of the Son of God. The Messiah decided to take up residence here on earth for a while. He did so with little fanfare, practically unnoticed.
Jesus, in his earthly journey, impressed many. The Lord preached to all, healed many, and raised the dead. Unfortunately, he was ignored and rejected by many. Finally, a few decided to kill him. Yet his shed blood was for them as well as us.
Ready or not, the Christmas season is upon us. Can it be said, “This year, you were celebrating for the right reason, not hiding or making excuses?”
The Christmas story starts like so many others in the Bible. It’s about the lives of ordinary people affected by divine appointments. Unexpected interventions cause believers to trust in the God of the impossible.
Mary, a young unmarried lady, had an unscheduled meeting with an angel. Gabriel told Mary she was soon to be with child. She inquired. How? Gabriel answered, “The Holy Spirit will overshadow you, and you will conceive and bring forth the Son of God.” She replied, “Okay,” and accepted Gabriel’s words by faith.
When Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, realized his future wife was with child, he didn’t know what to do. The legalism of the Old Testament would have her stoned, their method of public execution. As a man of integrity, he wanted to do what the Lord wanted him to do. The only spiritual recourse for him was to pray, and God answered. “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife (Matthew 1:20); the infant inside her is the Son of God. His name shall be Jesus (Matthew 1:21).”
If you were Joseph, what would you do? The groom-to-be had a big decision to make. Wed or not to wed, unite or separate. Raise a child that is not yours, or abandon the love of your life. Instead, Joseph chose to obey God and ignore human reasoning.
Now think about the conversation between Joseph and Mary. Each tried to explain God’s intervention. They both sat in awe as the other explained what the angel said. When their explanation ended, they sat and stared at each other, asking themselves, “Who are we that God should use us?” By faith, they committed themselves to each other and to the will of God. They trusted their Creator to fulfill his purpose through them.
The faith of ordinary people can do marvelous things by simply trusting in God.
Some people leave a lasting impression, especially those you have only encountered briefly. The Bible has a number of them. Jewels of refreshment. Saints without egos. Examples of encouragement.
Second Timothy mentions a saintly nobody, Onesiphorus, who was an encouragement to Paul. Onesiphorus, a name often mispronounced, sought Paul in Rome. He found him in jail. Would you look for a friend in prison? Onesiphorus knew Paul and knew his preaching was offensive to politicians.
Silent service happens in unusual places and in unique circumstances. Dedication ignores the boundaries and opinions of man. Faithfulness overlooks surroundings and looks to God. True friendship shows itself when others flee. For some, jails, hospitals, nursing homes, and Hospice care are fences. But the few, the ones who stick closer than a brother, are the true friends. They are willing to climb over the walls of life. Fleshly callousness doesn’t exist.
As believers, we have friends—Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They promised never to leave us. Hospitals and Hospice don’t scare them. That’s where they get closest to an individual. Their commitment to each Christian is one of inseparability. No circumstance can drive them away. Jewels like these shine in the darkest times.
Your friend, coworker, or neighbor may be your dearest friend. They help and stick by your side when no one else will. They take the time to be there when no one else will. They are your Onesiphorus. Just serving to serve.
What do you do when you lack the ability to do what you want? Hopefully, you will ask for help. However, if you are stubborn, you probably won’t. You would rather fail than lower yourself to ask for assistance. One of those two thoughts describes all of us. Ask for help or struggle is the dilemma.
The Holy Spirit is always accessible because he is always with you (John 14:16).
Christians can be stubborn, but believers have a divine resource, the Holy Spirit, who resides within us. Because he lives inside of you, he can help you in the following ways:
The third person of the Trinity has a way of guiding you like no one else (John 16:13b). No one can teach you as well as He.
The Spirit knows when we need help. So, He prays for us in a way that we cannot pray for ourselves (Romans 8:26, 27).
God’s Spirit shows us what is true in demanding situations (John 16:13a).
Lastly, the abiding Holy Spirit opens our eyes to speak about the Lord Jesus (John 15:26). Jesus promises never to leave us or abandon us (Hebrews13:5).
It’s one thing to know the Bible’s truth. It’s quite another to appropriate it into our lives. Of course, it helps to read our Bible. But, applying scriptures to our lives is entirely different. Practicing biblical principles allows us to enrich others.
Individuals willing to venture out by faith will find the Lord guiding them. The choice is ours to walk into the unknown by faith or hold on to the handrails of experience. There’s a difference between a pat on your back or to hear the words well done by the Savior.
People in this world can be greedy, temperamental, and hard to have a good relationship with. Many individuals believe their way is better and everybody else is wrong. Do you know someone who thinks that way? Does that describe anyone you know? Genuine inner joy comes from helping others. But how?
Below are twelve verses describing the giving of thanks for your reflection.
- When you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, offer it of your own free will (Leviticus 22:29).
- Offer to God thanksgiving (Psalms 50:14).
- I will praise the name of God…and will magnify Him with thanksgiving (Psalms 69:30).
- Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving (Psalms 95:2).
- Enter into His gates with thanksgiving…for the Lord is good (Psalms 100:4,5).
- Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good (Psalms106:1).
- Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and declare His works with rejoicing (Psalms 107:22).
- Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving (Psalms 147:7).
- Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6).
- Rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith…with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7).
- Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2).
- In everything give thanks (I Thessalonians 5:18).
As the Thanksgiving season approaches, why are you thankful? Life, salvation, spiritual growth, and good health are areas to give thanks. In addition, grandkids and great-grandkids are rewards for life’s longevity. Whatever your lot in life, if you look, there is something to express your gratitude.
The Lord is good. Good to each of us. Better than we deserve.
All scripture quotations are from the NKJV.
What makes you tick as a believer? What motivates you to continue on your journey as God’s child? Did you take a pill for your lifelong commitment? Or was it a vaccination? If you nourish yourself daily with the Bible, God will continue to sustain you through the briar patches of life.
Below are five thoughts to strengthen your spiritual walk.
Christians who want answers and solutions will read the book of books. Within its pages, the believer will find examples of individuals with the same type of situations you are experiencing. There’s nothing new under the sun, according to Ecclesiastes. Even though we think so, our solution is one in which God directs our attention.
As individuals read the Bible, they see themselves in some of the same situations as illustrated. Like being misunderstood, maybe punished for doing right, or getting into trouble because we disobeyed. They’re all in the Bible.
Solutions happen when we trust the Lord. Sometimes, he eliminates the problems. Then, there are times the Lord supplies the extra resources to satisfy the situation. But, challenging times happen when we go through the fire of certain circumstances. After the testing time, we realized God enabled us. Without the difficulty, we would never have matured as we did.
The fourth realization is when we believe in our Lord and trust his sovereign directions. Even though we may not give God credit for doing so, we forget he has promised never to leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6-8). Some lessons need experience for our future well-being.
The last point happens because we believe in the Lord. God provides our daily needs when we look to Him. This foundation encourages us to dive into God’s word by strengthening our faith to be put into action again and again.
One thing is for sure, doing right and trusting God for divine results is always a winner.
If you pay careful attention while reading your Bible, you may ask yourself why Christ performed so many miracles. Why did He say certain words? Why didn’t He say what you thought He would? Only one reason, He knew best.
When reflecting on the Lord’s actions, He helped others but not himself. Therefore, it was not advantageous to heal lepers or raise the dead.
Our Lord didn’t use his authority as God’s son for personal gain. An example would be—he rejected the people’s wishes to make him king (John 6:15). Jesus didn’t use his deity to carry his cross. Instead, Simon of Cyrene bore the Lord’s cross (Matthew 27:32). Our Lord could have stopped the soldier’s hand in midair from driving spikes through his hand, but Jesus didn’t. Likewise, he could have refused to pay for my sins, but he didn’t. And I will be eternally grateful for his kindness. And so will you.
Christ’s example of unselfishness can be our example. What can we do to show kindness to others? Open the door for someone. Rake leaves for a neighbor. Help someone find something they lost. Go grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor. Visit a friend. The opportunities are endless. The only thing it will cost you is time. Time is the most priceless thing you possess. It’s something that you can give without expecting anything in return .
Christ lived one life on earth in his thirty-plus years; he had you in mind. You needed an example, a good one. He gave you that.
Someone you meet today may need their faith in humanity restored. Would you, do it? It will cost you. Your time to be kind is what they need.
The choice is yours.