If you've ever run a race, climbed a mountain or achieved something you thought you could never do, that's Victory! Above all the voices of the world, over any terrible difficulty, regardless of pressures or hardships, there is a way to OVERCOME! Going through tough situations and succeeding is victory. Facing any kind of problem is hard. Often we feel alone, helpless and overwhelmed. It would be so great if life were simple or easy and we didn't have to face adversity, sickness, pain, or heartache. But Jesus said in, John 16:33b "....In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
Located in the New Testament there is a story of an overcomer. A particular man named Bartimaeus was blind sat on the side of the road begging for money. Bartimaeus must have heard of the mighty works and healing power of Jesus. One specific day, as he was sitting begging by the road, word came that Jesus was coming. As the crowd neared, he began to cry with a loud voice for Jesus. Although the people around hushed him, he cried all the more louder. His faith was forceful in the fact that he wasn't going to allow anyone or anything stand in the way of receiving his healing! Jesus hearing his cry, stopped and called him forth. So Bartimaeus stood up, threw off his garment and moved towards the Lord. Jesus asked him what He could do for him, to which Bartimaeus replied, "...that I may receive my sight." Jesus said, "Go your way, your faith has made you well." And immediately he was healed! (Mark 10:46-52)
Bartimaeus didn't wait for someone else to do something for him, he took action!
1) He cried out to Jesus, the healer. Whatever your situation, your help is in the Lord. 1 John 5:14-15 "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us: And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." Knowing that God hears your cries assures your faith of an answer. Take time right now to ask in prayer for your help.
2) He threw off his garment and stood up. Bartimaeus had a cloak that identified him as a blind man. His action to remove it demonstrated his faith to receive healing. It was when he cast it off and rose up to walk toward Jesus that confirmed he was ready to receive. 2 Cor. 10:4-5 says, "(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" The nature, characteristic, and opinions of the world cloud our mind as a cloak of deception. It is necessary that we take all those reasonings, arguments, or thoughts that are contrary to the Word and throw them down. This kind of faith disarms those weapons and readies us to receive our miracle. Your promise is in the Word of God, whether it's financial, healing or a sound mind you can receive it today!
In order to over come, it takes actions of faith. We must get up even when the circumstance is raging against us; Take this opportunity, right now to lay aside pity from ourselves and from others. Begin right now to not only see yourself delivered from your problem, but SAY "I'm free from it" Make a daily practice of reading and speaking God's promises over your life. As you confirm the Word through confession, your agreement will begin to change the circumstances. It won't be long before the Victory is yours! Faith in action Overcomes!
Everyone loves music. There are so many genres, it gives the listener a plethora to choose from. Even small children move and groove with the sound of songs. People wear headsets or earphones to hear their special tunes. We've got smart phones, ipods, ipads and tablets, radios, and cd's. Music stimulates us in movies, soothes us as we drive, wakes us in alarms and inspires with creativity. But more than that it's is a way that we can praise and worship God. Ps. 57:7 "My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music." Ps. 33:2-3 "Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; sing praises to Him with the harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully [on the strings] with a loud joyful sound."
It is written throughout the Bible, noting people who played instruments in the house of God, or singers (praisers) that marched out before armies. (2 Chron. 20:21) We find in Genesis that Jubal was the father of all who played the harp and flute. It was written that Moses sang a song of praise after the Exodus of the Israelites. Even Deborah, the prophetess, sang a victory song of the defeat of Sisera. The boy David, played a harp that ministered peace to King Saul. Paul and Silas sang a song in the deepest of prisons during captivity. It's written in Revelation of angels who sing continually in heaven. So we can see the all through the Word of God music is important.
In some churches, people think music is a time filler, standing or sitting to watch the musicians, never participating. Praise is an audible expression or action acknowledging gratefulness to God. We must engage in the doing of it. Ps. 71:8 "My mouth is filled with your praise and glory all day long." Ps. 109:30 "With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the Lord; And in the midst of many I will praise Him." Notice it's MY MOUTH that's participating. I WILL, is a decision WE make to be involved.
Praise becomes more than just singing songs. It works like a plow preparing the soil of our heart, making it soft and pliable to receive the Word and His instruction. We are saying to God, 'I lay down myself, my thoughts, my fears, and MY agenda, and place You first and foremost in my heart', releasing to You authority over my life.' Praise is a condition of the heart, exalting and magnifying Him not your problems.
It is suggested that people have become 'thrill' seekers, expecting church to bring all the bells, whistles, and fireworks that the world offers. And if the music isn't as electrifying, they lose interest and fade off into a lethargic trance. To experience the power of God in any service, thanksgiving and praise always proceed. This means we must be involved.
Let me just say the Bible says, we are to bless the Lord, O my soul and ALL that is within me! It also says, that He inhabits the praises of His people. When we decide that Jesus becomes the object of praise the church will change drastically. We will begin to see a true move of His Spirit, where He actually shows up and meets needs. This means you and I must 1) Not allow emotions to dictate whether or not we praise. (Praise and worship regardless of how you feel.) 2) Be constant in repentance and forgiveness. (Sin can keep you out of the presence of God) 3) Put down fear of what others will think. (Really, they shouldn't be watching you anyway!) And 4) Open your mouth and sing out, lift your hands. (God isn't going to make you His puppet.) YOU have to do it! Love must be verbalized to be complete. Declare the praises of Him, who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light! (1 Peter 2:9-10) Let's Praise the Lord!
Sailing a ship in stormy weather can be hazardous unless the captain has the knowledge and expertise. High winds and enormous waves can cause the ship to sink or shipwreck. Many a vessel has been lost due to treacherous seas. Like the tempest at sea, we are living in a troubled world. However, Jesus said "...in the world you will have tribulation..." (John 16:33) Paul also wrote in 2 Timothy, "...in the last days perilous times will come." (2 Tim. 3:1) Listening to the news we can see that we live in very dangerous, risky and unpredictable days. One who does not have the Lord as his Savior, is generally fearful and fretful. Jesus is our lighthouse, illuminating the path to safety. Through His direction and knowledge from His Word there is hope. (Heb. 13:20-21 "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to who be glory forever and ever. Amen") In light of the fact of circumstances we face, let's see how our Great Shepherd is characteristic of the lighthouse to us....
Psalms 23 says, "The Lord is my shepherd;" Making Jesus the ruler of your life, places Him as your protector, and watcher of your life. A lighthouse is guidance to safety. Surrendering to Him, just like sheep do to a shepherd, allows Him to be a guide of security. Sheep know the shepherds voice and where He leads they follow, unlike goats that question and butt everything that comes against them. (John 10:4)
"I shall not want." Phil. 4:19 says, "He supplies all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." As your Shepherd, He's going to make sure you have provision for every necessity. His supply is satisfying if we follow Him, as a ship that follows the light from the lighthouse. The Bible also tells us, He will give us the desires of our heart as long as we are delighting in Him. (Ps. 37:4) In the place of every need is supply.
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures;" When sheep lie down it means they are satisfied and content. Because we are in His presence there is fullness of joy we can rest untroubled as well as at peace, "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Ps. 4:8 & Ps.16:11) Even in the midst of a stormy sea the beacon shines to give us confidence and peace.
"He leads me beside the still waters." We can be sure He's leading us to a place of refreshment and tranquility. When we delight in His Word, as we meditate day and night will place us by the rivers of water which provides sustenance. Therefore, keeping us refreshed and prosperous, quenching our thirst. (Ps. 1:1-3 & Jer. 17:3)
"He restores my soul;" God forgives our iniquities and heals all our diseases. (Ps. 103:3) Regardless of how much we mess up, when we repent He forgives. Because of His infinite mercy and grace we are restored. The Holy Spirit gently signals us during times of struggles to escort us to the sanctuary for redemption.
"He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake." We can depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13) He will usher us in the right direction and in safety. His Name is the Lord our Righteousness, Jehovah Tsidkenu. Ps. 32:8 God says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Keeping our vision focused on Him assures traveling in a sheltered course.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death," Life is full of tribulations and temptations. One thing for sure, is we are going to the other side of the problem. But we must remember not to set up camp in depression or sorrow. We are more than an overcomer through Him. Especially when storms are raging, there's trust in His guidance. Pro. 18:30 "As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him."
"I will fear no evil, for You are with me;" Paul wrote, that God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) As long as we abide in the presence of the All Mighty God, we remain in His protection and fear will not affect us. (Ps. 91) Relying on the promise of His faithfulness to never leave or forsake us brings courage and strength. (Deu. 31:6-8) Just like the light signaling lost ships gives hope.
"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." God's Word is the instruction we need to get us through our life. In Ps. 119:105, it says, His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. That means it will point us in the right direction daily and for things to come. If we refer to the Bible everyday, it will teach, correct, and admonish us in living. (2 Ti. 3:16)
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;" God is on our side. He will contend with those who contend with us. Although there are enemies, we will not just survive, but feast in the midst of them. We come out on top of situations because of Him. Ps. 18:3 says, we can call upon the Lord, and He will deliver us from our enemies. Our trust and faith in Him, will bring peace with any adversary. (Pr. 16:17)
"You anoint my head with oil;" The anointing of oil upon the head is symbolic of blessing, protection and empowerment. We are sanctified and set apart for Him. (1 Cor. 6:11) We are chosen to proclaim the praises of God. (1 Peter 2:9)
"My cup runs over." Jesus said He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, overflowing, much more than is expected or needed. This is the blessing that spills over. We are blessed!
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;" As long as we remain faithful to God's Word, we shall be in His mercy. Ps. 65:11 says, God crowns the year with His goodness, and richness overflows wherever He is. Steadfastly abiding in the Word and His presence guarantees goodness and mercy.
"And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." We have guarantee of our place for eternity when Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior. This is a promise of security in eternity.
We want to encourage you to mediate on this scripture and let it become a reality in your heart. Realize that through the Word, God has given us guidance for anything we may face. He encourages us with the promises of provision, protection, healing, blessing, and His benefits. Our failure to recognize these, believe and trust Him, and receive it, puts us at risk in these insecure days. Don't shipwreck because you reject faith and a good conscience. Keep your eyes upon Jesus and sail through to the shore. You can do all things through Him, who gives you strength. (Phil. 4:13)
Have you ever felt as if everyone and everything was coming against you? Your thoughts being bombarded with condemnation, telling you it's all your fault and that you're a complete mess up! And no matter how hard you try to fix it, you're not getting out of it? Let me tell you right now, you have invisible enemies! Ephesians 6:12GWT tells us, "This is not a wrestling match against a human opponent. We are wrestling with rulers, authorities, the powers who govern this world of darkness, and spiritual forces that control evil in the heavenly world." Our opposition isn't coming from people. It's what's behind the problem - unseen forces trying to kill, steal and destroy your hopes, dreams and faith. (John 10:10)
1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." One of my favorite minister teachers said, interpreted the verse like this: "You must be constantly alert and on your guard! The devil, like an accusing lawyer, will try to charge you will all kinds of arguments and accusations. You need to know that he is like a lion on the prowl, constantly walking around, roaring, with a deafening sound, earnestly seeking the kind of person he can completely consume and slurp up!" (from Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Rick Renner)
These powers from the supernatural realm are assaulting with depression, defeatist attitudes, hopelessness, worry, fear, discouragement, distress and the like. Does this sound like you? The problem is that most people don't recognize 1) it's coming from the devil and 2) there's a way of escaping this! (1 Cor. 10:13)
If you want to become free from any attack of the devil, here's what you can do!
1) James 4:7 "Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you." Submitting to God means, prayer and reading or studying the Word. We must know about the authority God and Jesus has given us and how to operate in it. (Luke 10:19) Just sitting in your room and thinking God's going to zap the devil, isn't going to change anything. He is not in control. If He was, He would have control over the evil. God has done all He's going to do through the power of the cross and Jesus' resurrection. Resisting something takes determination and a firm stand. A great example would be a dieter that is refusing to eat cake. Closing his eyes and pretending the cake will go away won't work. He must strongly fight against the urges to eat the dessert. To combat the tactics of satan's attacks, it requires a purposeful persistent opposition. The decision to cast down all imaginations that don't line up with the Word and a commitment to remain dedicated to confessing the scriptures. With this type of perseverance you can win every time!
2) Walk in the Spirit! Galatians 5:16 says, "...walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." By saying walk, we are implying that we need to live our life, make it our behavior or habit to be in the Spirit. One who 'walks in the Spirit', is asking the Holy Spirit for direction, listening and heeding His instruction! Saying what God's Word says, rather than talking about the problem. Walking in the Spirit means we're not participating with things that are contrary to the Word of God! It's control over the flesh!
3) And when we've done all to stand, stand! (Eph. 6:13-18) In other words, after doing everything in the Spirit we know to do, taken our authority, prayed in the Holy Ghost, and resisted the devil, we stand convinced that things have already changed. Why? Because we've acted in faith. And faith is the things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Faith is calling those things that be not as though they were, running the course with endurance, and never let go strength. It keeps it's eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of faith. Praise and Worship is in our mouth because we believe we have already obtained victory. And when the invisible enemies come, we are already convinced that we are more than conquerors through Christ!
We encourage you to fight the good fight of faith, stay true to your course, never give up, know that you're an overcomer through the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony above the invisible enemies!
Many years ago while in Arkansas ministering, we visited a secluded farm. The sole purpose of going there was to get some blackberries. Fresh picked fruit is the best. We each sought out a bush and began to pick. Pastor Michael found an extremely large one that had the biggest berries, we'd ever seen. He began to choose the choicest ones and his small container filled fast. While gathering, he noticed deep within the giant bush there were even bigger berries. As he carefully tried to move the vines to avoid the thorns in order to reach in, an unsuspecting branch swung over and hit the hand holding the container. Just then all the berries, he had so thoughtfully gathered spilled to the ground, in the middle of the bush. Now all the huge fruit, he so cautiously harvested was scattered and his receptacle was empty. What had taken him twenty minutes to collect was gone in seconds. So disappointed in the loss, he looked around and found an abandoned fence post. He took that post and began to beat the bush, until he made a hole wide enough for him to crawl into. He picked up his little can and on his hands and knees, he wriggled into the bush to begin picking up all his lost fruit. He began to say, "I picked these berries, they are mine, and I'm going to have them!" All of a sudden an audible voice, that only he heard spoke to him and said, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." When he heard this, he paused, but within a second later was back in picking and saying "I picked these berries, they are mine, and I'm going to have them!" Again the voice spoke a little bit louder to him, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." Once more he paused and listened, but quickly began pressing in to get all that fruit he so much longed for. Then the third and final time the voice spoke, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." Just at that moment he realized he had heard the voice of God. It wasn't until much later that evening that he became aware of thorns that had pierced him in his ears, legs and arms that he hadn't noticed during his berry quest. If one desires something, a focused determination will bring it about, although there are 'thorns' trying to hinder.
Some learning aspects of this experience, would be:
1) "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." (Mat. 6:33) Just like in this illustration, what a man seeks is the direction that will be leading him. Becoming so ingrained in something, can be positive if seeking the right thing. God first! If one is on the hunt for their own desires, success, fame or fortune, they can get off course and self driven, which leads to trouble. And when God speaks, it's often difficult to hear Him because the attention is based on our own passions. Grasping the attitude of Kingdom business and righteousness first, means all the things that God has for us will fall in line. Our needs and wants will be fulfilled if we give Him and His desires priority.
2) Being extremely committed and focused, to the direction God has for you, will desensitize distractions. Heb. 12:1-2 says, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." Pastor Michael was zeroing in on his task at hand: "Pick the berries". His intention was to get the biggest and best at any cost. It didn't matter that the bush had thorns or that they were piercing his flesh. With tenacity and purpose he pressed in despite any obstacle. We should be that persistent when it comes to our faith! Regardless of what comes against us, others conversation, deceptive speculations, or discouragement, our resolve to keep on keeping on should prevail.
Listen people of God, life has many distractions and lots of daunting events. There's going to be 'thorns' along the way. It's what we do in the midst of them that determines what kind of person we're going to be. We can notice every little "owie" or chose to keep our vision centered on God and His Word. One thing we do, is believe what God said above any circumstance, despite how we feel or what we see. We purpose to live daily in agreement with God, which means saying what He says and thinking what He thinks. Is it easy? NO! But if you resolve to be consistent and tenacious, you will not only grow up in Christ, but not even notice the "Thorns".
People from every facet of life want to know they are loved. From the young to the elderly everyone needs the affirmation of love. Just knowing that someone cares for us puts a skip in our step. We begin to act happier, smile more, talk nicer to others and even develop a confidence within. I suppose we could honestly say Love is very powerful.
Of course we all know there are four types of love.
#1. Storge. Is brotherly love, like the love of a family member. Whether a person is a blood relative or a friend that's just like a family member, this is the kind of love that's expressed. Your family may have a time-honored friend that you call Aunt or Uncle, because of the sentimental fondness. Storge is the love conveyed to grandparents, parents, and your family in general.
#2. Philia. A friendship love. Many of us have friendships we've developed through various life events. A close relationship could have developed from your school years, whether elementary or college, you've remained devoted. Regardless of how you came to generate this bond you have this Philia love for them.
#3. Eros. Romantic love. Probably the love with which are are most familiar. And truthfully needs less explanation. But nonetheless it's a passionate love with sensual desires and longing. One encyclopedia said it was "pure emotion without the balance of logic".
#4. Agape. Unconditional Love. This is the type of love God expresses towards us. And the sort of love we are to express to others. Agape love is selfless, expecting nothing in return.
So in light of this, we all in one form or another need and want love. Yet we are ultimately searching and craving for unconditional love. We want someone to love us regardless of our faults, despite our inadequacy, or without regard to our appearance. And sadly there are many people who never experience this true type of love. Let me just say there is One who loves you this way. God loves you! You could be the most despicable person, and He still loves you. Oh, He may not love the things you do or have done, but He loves YOU! 1 John 4:10GNT says, "This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven."
The devil wants to steal the revelation of God's love for you. He'll do it through the means of media, rude and uncaring people, or your own thoughts based on your past. Also people often view their circumstances as a judgement call of God's love. Just because things in your life haven't gone well, does not mean God does not love you. Know that in life there will be hardships. Romans 8:35 says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?....yet in ALL these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Paul went on to write in verse 38, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
NOTHING can keep you from receiving God's love unless you allow it. Push back fear or thoughts that are shouting louder than His love, and just receive it now. Say "GOD LOVES ME! I AM LOVED! GOD LOVES ME! I AM LOVED!"
Prayer: Father, You have given me a spirit of power, of love and a sound mind. I refuse to be fearful about anything! I am empowered by the Holy Spirit and recognize Your love for me. I overcome every circumstance that comes against me through Jesus' love. I AM more than an overcomer through Christ! Your love reinforces my faith and helps me to become powerful in life situations by the Holy Spirit. I choose to daily confess Your love for me, thereby reinforcing my faith. Thank you Lord, for I know faith works by love! Amen.
Influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself. Someone or something is constantly influencing your decisions, your actions, and possibly your opinions which affects your character. These can come from family nurturing, peer motivations, our own choices based on environment or perhaps instructors, advisors, or counselors. So, who or what, do you believe has had the most influence on you? Evidence is in your reflection.
Have you ever heard the sayings, You become like those with whom you associate; Or, You become what you think about? Truth of the matter is we become what we behold! Proverbs 13:20 says, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed."
Generally parents discovers personality traits their children, whether good or bad, have selected to parrot from friends or school associates. If that quality is acceptable, it's welcomed. However, if it is inappropriate of course it's discouraged. We could presume it's because they socialize with them daily, discovering habits and mannerisms to use.
Because we are so easily swayed by others and things, it would behoove us to be discerning about what we are watching or with whom we are associating. Keeping company with the wrong crowd can lead to a destructive life and an undesirable outcome. Listening to unethical conversations, opinions, or advice can steer us in the wrong direction. Watching immoral media will obviously fill the heart and mind with foolish judgements and beliefs. The Bible clearly gives us instruction on what type of person we are to model ourself after.
Rom. 13:14, "But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and make no provision for [indulging] the flesh [put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature] to [gratify its] desires (lusts)."
Eph. 5:1 "Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]."
3 John 1:11 "Beloved, do not imitate evil, but imitate good. He who does good is of God; he who does evil has not seen (discerned or experienced) God [has enjoyed no vision of Him and does not know Him at all].
Heb. 6:12 NKJ "that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
And Paul wrote in 1Cor. 11:1 "Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah)."
In each of the referenced scriptures the theme implied is 'imitating'. Since emulating is natural, God is instructing us to choose the right one to follow. Inasmuch as we desire to 'be like' someone, maybe we need to reevaluate with who or what we are trying to identify.
Being a Christian isn't just a cliche'. It means to be like Christ. I realize that there are a lot of people in the world that say they are 'Christians', yet their lifestyle nor their conversation emulate Christ. That does not make everyone who says they are Christian counterfeit. Just like one bad lawyer or doctor, doesn't mean all lawyers or doctors are corrupt. Matthew 12:33 explains a 'tree is known by it's fruit'. Consequently the evidence of a person's character is shown in his/her actions, words, consistency, habits, or mannerisms. If you observe someone long enough you'll know. Plus your reflection reveals your status.
Know for sure what or who you are reflecting, as a guide follow 2 Corinthians 3:18 by keeping your eyes on God's Word, then He will transform you daily to be more like Him. ("And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.")
All scriptures used are Amplified version unless specified.
Think back to all the gifts you've ever received. This might be difficult for some. Like me, you've probably received many gifts over your lifetime. Can you remember the greatest gift you've ever received?
When I was a child, gifts were something only given on very special occasions, like Christmas or Birthdays. It was rare to get a gift for no apparent reason. My most memorable gift was a much wanted doll house. I lived with my grandparents when I was young, and they had a very meager life. They didn't put up a Christmas tree or buy Easter baskets or even bake birthday cakes. Yet on one Christmas I recall the metal doll house with furniture that they gave me. It wasn't sitting under a tree, but perched on a small table by the front door. I was a delighted at that gift.
Over the years, I've been given many wonderful gifts from friends and family. Many of which were very memorable and valuable. The value being, the heartfelt sentiment from the giver. If you were to consider the worth of a gift, how would you measure it? Some would probably say the significance would be in the cost. Others might say it would be calculated by the usefulness of that gift. For instance a person who was given a coat, who had no coat, would more likely value that gift better than one who had several coats. And of course, there are those who value a gift by the sincerity of the giver. Let me just say that, in whatever way you measure the value of a gift it's usually due to its importance at the time.
This Christmas season I would like to inspire you to consider in all the gifts you've ever been given, the Greatest Gift of all is Jesus Christ. Is. 9:6 (GNT) says, "A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
There is much value in the gift of this Savior. And, just as with any gift, it's worth is in the eye or the heart of the receiver. You choose how valuable He is to you. To me He is my peace in the midst of all troubles and turmoil. And my healer, Who heals ALL my diseases, infirmities, and sicknesses. Jesus is my provider for all my needs. He is my gift of eternal life. I'm assured I have a place with Him in Heaven. What does this Wonderful Gift of our Savior mean to you? Do you daily place value on this gift by giving Him priority in and over your life? Let this be a reminder of how great a gift we have been given.
Perhaps the most important question for some, have you personally accepted this gift of Jesus Christ, as Savior? To receive the Greatest Gift, repeat this prayer: "Lord Jesus, I ask You to come into my life and forgive me of all my sins. I confess my sins before You this day. I denounce Satan and all his works. I confess Jesus as the Lord of my life. Thank You for saving me. I believe with my heart and I confess with my mouth that You rose from the dead. I am saved. Write my name in the Lamb's book of life. Today is my God-day with the Lord Jesus! I pray this prayer to the Father in the name of Jesus. Amen."
If you just prayed this prayer, please e-mail, mail, or call us to let us know. We'd like to send you a free booklet to to help you understand a little more about this new life in Christ.
With Christmas rapidly approaching, I'm reminded of a children's song, "Santa Clause is Coming to Town." The chorus says, "He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good.." I'm by no means endorsing Santa. Yet it brings to mind something that deeply impacted me, after watching a specific online ministry broadcast. Something I already knew, but somehow, had vaguely disregarded awakened in my spirit. More importantly than Santa watching, Jesus is watching!
A scriptural reference to this is found in Mark 12:41-42 which says, "Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents." And we know that Jesus stopped and pointed out to everyone there, that this woman's offering was more abundant than all that had been given. Jesus was not only observing the amount they were giving, but He was also considering the way they gave. The attitude of the heart is extremely important. Pr. 21:2NIV "A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart." God is looking on our hearts in all that we do, to see our motive. Are we doing our service because we want others to see us and think we are holy? Do we give in the offering because 'we're expected to'? Is our worship done for the sake of others watching? What is the true motive of our heart?
In Revelation when Jesus spoke to the seven churches, the very first thing He says to them is, "I know your works.." He knew their works, because He had visited their church. He walked up and down their services, He listened to their conversations and their hearts were revealed to Him. If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, then He's keeping an eye on us. He is paying attention to how we act in troublesome times, to our treatment of others, listening to our conversations, heeding our attitudes we have to the messages we receive from our Pastor. He's watching to see if we behave like He did because we love Him and want to, or if it's because we want to impress. Jesus is not just watching us when we're at church, but He's with us when we're home, at our job, at school, or where ever we may be.
Listen children of God, Hebrews 4:13 says, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Reality set in for me today, God is with us, watching. No matter what we think, hide in our heart, speak, or conduct ourselves, God knows. And one day, very soon, just like the scripture says, we will give and account. I encourage you today to consider your attitude, your behavior, and your words. Are they glorifying the Lord? Colossians 3:17 "And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him."
We need to quit pretending we're one way, when our heart says another. Jesus is not only watching, but knows our heart. Make a decision today to practice the presence of God in every day life and activate Colossians 1:10. "That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition]."
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."