Monday, December 22, 2014

“Giving is one way we get in on God’s miracles.”

A thought by Mark Batterson (2013-09-24) in his book, All In: You Are One Decision Away From a Totally Different Life (Kindle Locations 2105-2106). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

And the whole Christmas celebration is about a miracle.  It is the miracle of God coming to earth as a baby.  That is an unbelievable miracle and giving is one way we get in on it.
If you have read the story of the Nativity you know about the Magi, the Three Kings from the East who brought gifts for the baby Jesus.  Mark says, “At first glance, it seems like the Magi bring the wrong gifts to this baby shower, doesn’t it? What kid wants a bottle of frankincense, right? Get the poor kid an ancient Jewish action figure — David with slingshot or Shamgar with oxgoad.” 

Now when the Wise Men came searching for the child they went to King Herod and asked where the young ruler was to be born.  The fact that there was this young ruler out there who could take his place so distressed Herod that he eventually went so far to kill all of the boys two years and younger but an Angel then told Joseph in a dream that some bad was going to happen and he needed to go to Egypt for a while.

Now back to the gifts.  Mark says, “Gold, frankincense, and myrrh seem like misguided gifts, but stop and think about it. How does a minimum -wage carpenter who just paid a huge tax bill fund a trip to a foreign country? These gifts were just what Mary and Joseph needed. They were their golden ticket to Egypt. And it’s the only way they could have escaped the genocide that ensued. Those gifts saved their lives! Now let me connect the dots. The Magi’s gifts were Mary and Joseph’s miracle!”

God wants to use us in making a difference in other people’s life and He does that though our giving.  Take some time in picking that Christmas gift.  “Giving is one way we get in on God’s miracles.”  It could really make a difference in their life.

So what is it and who is it for?

Friday, December 19, 2014

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayer has been heard.”

A thought by Various Authors (2010-02-23) from the Holy Bible (NIrV) for Adults (Kindle Locations 66388-66389). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

I am reading through the accounts in the New Testament of the Bible of the birth of Jesus and I came across this line in the first chapter of Luke.  And I found this line a little interesting.  Now I do know the story but I still find this fact interesting.

Now Zechariah is an older priest and an angel comes to him and said this statement.  Of course I probably would be afraid if I saw an angel but excited that God had heard my prayer and was going to answer it.  It seems that Zechariah had been praying since he was young for a child and now the angel says it is going to happen and he is afraid.

I know it was something he really wanted but with it not happening and he and his wife getting older he may have been praying just because he had always done it.  He had gotten to the place that he was sure that it wasn’t going to happen but here it is and the fact that there was going to be a baby around made him stop and think, maybe this isn’t a good thing.  It was a very good thing but it caught him off guard.

Of course Joseph, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus had a lot to be afraid of being the earthly father of the Son of God.  But Zechariah was getting what he had prayed for and he was afraid.

I’m sure every parent had a feeling of excitement but also some fear when they found out that they were going to be a parent.  It is such a major responsibility but also a tremendous priviledge.  I remember the night our son Brett, our first child was born and the drive I had from the hospital to our home and the time of earnest prayer I had.  It was an emotional time that drive but it was also the beginning of one of the most fulfilling tasks that I have had, the task to be a parent and now a grandparent.  I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything but it also had some anxiety attached to it.

I am so glad that I had a relationship with God to help me to guide me to nurture me to encourage me.  I would never want that responsibility without Him.  He has made all the difference.

So what prayer are your praying today? 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

“Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews?”

A thought by Various Authors (2010-02-23) from the Holy Bible (NIrV) for Adults (Kindle Location 63105). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

Here is the context of this question.  It is found in Matthew 2:1-4 (NIrV).  It says, “After Jesus’ birth, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem. They asked, ‘Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? When we were in the east, we saw his star. Now we have come to worship him.’”

These guys were from a different country and through their search they had read that a child was going to be born who was going to make a major difference.  Through an unbelievable experience they had found out that it was now happening so they had come to find him.  They had made it this far but they still didn’t know where he was so they came to King Herold to ask him.  But he was the wrong person to ask.

Where do you go for answers to your important questions?  Do you just sit down in a quiet place and think on your own and come up with an answer? 

I love to read.  I have read 23 different books in 2014.  I find a lot of my answers from other people.  But I start every day in one book and that is the Bible.  That is where these guys had found out about Jesus.  They had been reading in what we now call the Old Testament and they had found the prophecy that a promised child was to be born.  That was where they started but then they had a practical question to ask but they asked the wrong person.  Now that didn’t deter them.  They went somewhere else and found the answer. 

They thought surely the King will have the answer but he didn’t.  He did find the answer as to who this young child was and he didn’t like it.  His chief priests told him that the scriptures said that he was to be a ruler.  So he also had a question and he found the answer in the Bible. 

The Bible is a good place to start to have the main questions of your life answered.  Why not start there.  You will see that it will make a difference in your life.  You might not sometimes like the answer as Herold found but you will find it to be the truth and if you follow it it will make all the difference in your life.

So where do you go for your answers?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.”


A thought by Various Authors (2010-02-23) from the Holy Bible (NIrV) for Adults (Kindle Locations 63089-63090). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)


Have you ever wondered about something and you didn’t know where to turn to find the answer?  I had heard someone say that going to college is not to know all the answers but where to find them.  So because of that fact I thought I would take a few days leading up to Christmas and read a book that tells about the person of Christmas.  And that person is Jesus Christ and the book is the first book in the New Testament of the Bible.  And it is written by a man who personally knew and followed Jesus.  His name was Matthew.

Now of the first four books on the life of Christ in the New Testament two of them tell of His birth but this thought comes from the book by Matthew in chapter 1 and verse 18.  It is a very interesting and in some ways unbelievable story.  If you have never read the story and you would like to read them go to the Bible title at the top and click on it and it will take you to Amazon.com where you can buy it and it should get to you in a couple of days.

When I want to know about something I like to go to the source.  Now granted I have read this story over 45 times the last two years.  I love it.  It doesn’t get old.  And I’m going to read it three more times before Christmas.  You see, He really matters to me and I really want to know all about Him.

Are you interested in how the birth of Jesus Christ came about?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

“To bless someone means to offer happiness or praise to them.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 175). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

Oh how our kids need that.  Oh how our mate needs that.  Oh how our parents need that.  Oh how our friends need that.  Oh how our God wants that.

I like how John puts it.  He says, “When you say ‘Blessed are you, O Lord,’ you are not only expressing gratitude, but you are saying, ‘I want to make you happy and praise you, God, with my gratitude for what you have done.’ It’s a subtle reminder that gratitude is good for both the person expressing it and the one receiving it.”

John also says, “Gratitude does not always come naturally. You will not always feel grateful. But you can take the time each day to remember the benefits you received, see your benefactor, and thank him for his benefits. As Thornton Wilder put it, ‘We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.’”

Remember, there is a kickback with gratitude. As John says, it is “good for both the person expressing it and the one receiving it.”

What person do you need to express gratitude to and to bless?

Monday, December 15, 2014

“You can’t be grateful for something you believe you are entitled to.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 171). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

We so easily get into this trap of entitlement.  I mean even Christians can mistakenly believe that we are entitled to stuff but all that we have is because of His grace.  John continues this thought by saying, “and without a grateful heart the soul suffers. Because the soul needs gratitude.”

I find it so easy at this Season to feel that we deserve gifts.  I mean I expect my family to give me gifts.  It’s Christmas but that is not the reason for this Season. Yes we celebrate a gift that was given but we were very undeserving of that gift.    

John continues.  He says, “Here’s the deal: The more you think you’re entitled to, the less you will be grateful for. The bigger the sense of entitlement, the smaller the sense of gratitude. We wonder why in our world we keep getting more and more and more and keep being less and less and less grateful. This is precisely why. My sinful mind can convince me that anything I want I’m entitled to, and if I’m not getting something I want, somebody in the universe must be messing up, and they owe me, and they ought to pay for it. In fact, this has led to a proliferation of lawsuits, because when we don’t get something we really want, we want to sue somebody.”

Let’s stop doing that.  All that we have comes from a good God and we do not deserve any of it, we are not entitled to it, we are loved so He shows us that love by being good to us.

John said, “My former colleague Bill Hybels once saw in the Newport Beach harbor in California a beautiful, gleaming, million-dollar yacht whose name was painted in big, bold letters across it. Its name was Deserved. Whatever I have , I deserve. Entitlement grows deep within us. This is why, for the soul, ingratitude is not just a psychological problem. It’s not just an impoverishment of our emotional experience. It’s a sin. Paul says it’s the hallmark of a life opposed to God. ‘For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile . . .’ This connection is so interesting. Their thinking was futile. They perceived themselves to be entitled, to be owed, not as grateful receivers of grace every moment. ‘. . . forget not all his benefits . . .’”
  
So how grateful are you?

Friday, December 12, 2014

“Try a little experiment. It will take all of two days, but it will teach you an important soul lesson.”

A thought by John Ortberg (2014-04-22) from his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 169). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

Here is what John says to do… “Today, when you greet people, begin your conversation with a little complaint. The Bible calls that grumbling, as in ‘Do everything without grumbling.’ It might be a complaint about something in your life: your health, your job, money problems, the fact that you don’t have a spouse, the fact that you do have the spouse that you have. It might be something about the person you’re greeting. You don’t like how they’re dressed. Or you just don’t like their personality, or maybe you’re jealous. Just greet a friend or colleague with something like, ‘Man, did I have a horrible night’s sleep.’ I’d be thrilled if you couldn’t think of anything.

He continues, Tomorrow, try to greet people with a word of gratitude. I hope this is a lot easier for you than today’s assignment. Think about something you’re genuinely grateful for: your family, a friend, your health, your job, the weather, your church. It might sound something like this: ‘Wow, on a morning like this, it just feels good to be alive, doesn’t it?’”

Then he says, “After you try this little experiment, ask yourself which day produced more positive feelings in you. Which day left you feeling vibrant, more alive, and closer to God? I’m pretty sure I know the answer because the soul thrives on gratitude. We feel better when we are grateful because the fundamental mind-set of the life of the soul is gratitude.”

Pretty good idea.  Why not give it a try?