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“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Luke 1:46-49 (NRSV)
Imagine Mary’s fear when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. While giving birth to the Son of God was surely an intimidating prospect, Scripture tells us that there was something bigger than Mary’s fear: her desire to carry out the will of God.
“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38 NRSV)
After receiving the angel’s news, her prayer wasn’t that God would spare her from shame or pain, or even give her peace. Peace came when she said ‘yes’ to God’s will! And more than peace, she was filled with JOY!
Today, so much of our joy in this season is dependent on the traditions we associate with it. We say Christmas is about family, or giving gifts; but who hasn’t experienced a truly epic holiday fight, or been disappointed to see a loved one cast a gift aside that was chosen for them with care?
Christmas may include these things, but true Christmas joy comes from celebrating that 2000 years ago a simple girl said ‘yes’ to bringing our Savior into the world. Christmas is about the fact that today, God is asking us to repeat that ‘yes’ when He asks us to spread His Good News.
When God asks you to bear His Son to your neighbor, how often do you respond with a joyful ‘yes’? How can you invite others to experience the true joy of this season?
Father, thank You for sending Your Son into the world so many years ago. Thank You for blessing Mary with the courage to say “yes” to Your will. Lord, I pray today that You would make me courageous enough to say “yes” to You when You ask me to bear Your Son to those around me. Help me to seek You as my true source of joy this Christmas. In Your Son’s precious name, amen.
This week, begin your prayer times by echoing Mary’s words to the angel: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Lk. 1:38 NRSV) Then watch for God to work in your life as you live in His will!
Resource: Unwrap Joy this Christmas. Read 8 Instagram Ideas to Keep Jesus in Focus.
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The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be calledthe Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” Luke 1.35-37
Have you ever speculated what it must have been like for Mary to have an angel tell her that she was going to have a baby?
I wonder if Mary must have felt like she’d stepped into the twilight zone. One day she is going about her normal teenage life and the next she’s had an encounter with an angel that will change the course of her life forever!
Did she wonder if it must have been her wild imagination working overtime? It all happened so fast.
Mary recalls something the angel said in his conversation with her. Elizabeth is pregnant and in her sixth month. She realizes that in visiting Zechariah and Elizabeth, she will see if it’s true or just something she’s made up in her head. So she hops on a donkey and makes the journey to the hill country of Judea.
God knew that Mary needed a friend, someone who knew and understood, with no explanations needed. He knew she needed validation, someone to affirm what God had said to her, so he sent her to Elizabeth. He gave her a lifeline in the midst of upheaval and turmoil.
God throws us lifelines as well in the form of other believers. But do we use them?
He created us to need each other, to find support and encouragement, validation and care. It’s God’s design. Friendships can be messy, difficult and challenging but they’re worth the risk.
Remember, God never intended for you to walk alone!
Heavenly Father, relationships can be hard, disappointing and difficult. I find it easier to withdraw and go it alone but that’s not Your desire for me. Help me to see beyond myself, to reach out and take the risk because it’s Your plan for me and I trust You. Amen.
Think about something you are struggling with and call on one of your lifelines to help you. It could be something as big as doubt in who God is, it could be a need for prayer, or even just someone to sit and rest with a while in a busy season. When you ask for help from others, you give them permission to lean on you too!
Learn how to recognize God’s voice.
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“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
Recently, my husband and I have been struggling with a number of unexpected health issues. While it has been difficult, God has blessed us through the love and friendship of our brothers and sisters in Christ (both friends and strangers). Their help and support remind me of this verse in Ephesians, where Paul exhorts the church to nurture loving relationships through an attitude of humility, gentleness and patience with those around them.
Our family has experienced an example of this first hand. In humble service, people have come to our home to do dishes and bring meals. In gentleness, many have prayed for and with us. In patience and persistence, many have continued to ask how we are, and what we need. They have stood together with us in our time of struggle and loved us through our difficult circumstances.
As the body of Christ lovingly nurtures relationships with people in the church and the community around them it bears witness to Christ’s love in action. Being humble, gentle, and patient in love draws people into relationships founded on Christ’s love. As we, the Church, continue to nurture these relationships it ultimately draws people to a new or deepening relationship with God.
Heavenly Father, You are all-loving. Thank you for your holy Bible, which teaches us how to love others the way Jesus loves us and gave himself up for us. Help us to extend Christ-like love to those around us so that we can build up the relationships we have, and ultimately draw people to you. Amen.
Prayerfully consider how you can nurture a relationship with someone in your church, school, workplace or family with an attitude of humble, gentle, and patient love. What is one thing you can do today to show humility, gentleness or patience?
Humility is not a doormat. True humility looks like this.
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“As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way.’” Mark 1:2
Many think this time of year is the Christmas season filled with lights, music, parties and shopping. But, it is not. It is Advent—a season where we should not only prepare our own hearts to encounter the Christ child, but help others to prepare their hearts as well.
Scripture tells us John the Baptist cried out the passages from Isaiah about preparing the way of the Lord. He called the Israelites to repentance, knowing another would soon come whose sandals John was unworthy to tie—Jesus, the Christ.
Perhaps we are not called to be another John the Baptist but we can spread the Christ-mass cheer in other ways. Smile to the frazzled store clerk and call them by name. They are often the brunt of everyone else’s frustration and selfish nature. We can treat them with dignity.
Be a friend in need to the poor, be it in spirit or physical necessities. What if we take 10% of we normally spend on gifts and give it to our church ministry programs? Maybe send Christmas cards with a Christian message instead of ones with woodland creatures hopping around snowmen. Above all, pray each morning that God will use us to shine the Light of love and joy in a dark world.
Lord Jesus come. As we prepare our hearts for you, open them to receive others as well. Let Your light shine through the pre-Christmas season’s hustle and hassles. Keep us focused on the main thing – You. Help us to point others towards You as well. Amen.
Each day, carry out some small way to bring Christ back into this season through your attitude, sacrificial giving, or prayer.
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“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5
In relationships with people who are dear to us, often it’s the deeper things that stick out: the long talks, the laughing until you cry, and feeling safe enough to let tears fall. But what about in the rest of our relationships? How about our interactions with the man on the street corner or the grocer? How do we remember them, and how do they remember us? For me, usually the only thing that sticks out is what I can grasp of their personality in those simple few minutes we spend together. And I assume that, for them, it’s the same.
On my walk to work I sometimes see a woman on her way to her job. One morning, out of nowhere, she gave me a huge smile and said good morning. Now every time we see one another we smile and say good morning, and it always means the world to me. That is the hint of a Christ-like attitude: genuine, unforced kindness.
Shouldn’t we endeavor to leave behind a godly impression wherever we go? Especially as the Christmas season rolls around? Shopping centers fill and stress levels rise and everyone is under pressure of some sort or another. How much good would one extra smile or friendly gesture mean to that random person you pass by? And what’s more, with a little intentionality, God can turn those small moments into on-going, deeper relationships, so they can see and discover the One who is giving you the fruit of kindness.
Our father and king, help me be godly in my attitudes. I pray that my actions and thoughts and even my personality would be molded into a picture of who Christ is. May people notice and see You in me. Thank You for Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray, Amen.
Go out of your way this week to do something nice for someone. If you’re shy like me, maybe it can just be a friendly smile at a stranger. Start making it into a habit, and even an attitude. Seek Christ through this and glorify Him for every positive turn of events. And as you start acting with random kindnesses, pray that the Lord will grow these moments into opportunities to share Christ.
Resource: Read Smile! Jesus Loves You!
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“I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10, NKJV
Do you hold something dear to your heart that you would love to see brought into your home this Christmas? Perhaps you have been wanting to purchase a treasure for that special someone?
Jesus bought His special treasure over 2000 years ago. The cost was His own life; the purchased treasure was us. Christ still longs to see all of His sheep brought into His fold. In Luke 15:10, Jesus asks, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?…. I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:4 & 10, NKJV)
This Christmas, let’s demonstrate our love for God and for one another by seeking out those who are still lost in the darkness of separation from God and kindling the fires of friendship with them. As we start to show these lost souls the genuine love that God has freely given us, we can join them on their journey of reconciliation with God. That is the greatest gift of all!
Lord Jesus, help me to make this Christmas extra special by seeking those who need to know You! There is no greater gift than relationship with You, O God; may I never forget that I am Your hands and feet on this earth. As I listen to the beautiful sounds of the season, I ask that my heart may truly be one with Yours, rather than selfishly centred on myself and my own desires. In Your holy and precious name, I pray, Lord Jesus, amen.
As you spend time with the Lord in prayer each day, ask Him to place on your heart and in your path those who need to know Him. Ask Him to show you how He desires you to begin conversation with them. Then seek the courage to obey.
If you had the chance to share your faith would you know what to say? We can help with that.
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“Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off what hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
The holidays usually mean time spent with family. For some of us, our best memories are with family and we look forward to making new memories every year. However, some people have few positive experiences with their biological family. Some come from unhealthy or abusive situations. Some have lost loved ones. As a result, the holidays can be filled with loneliness, regret or anger.
The good news is that because of God’s grace, we are part of a new kind of family. Those of us who have accepted Christ are now part of His family—the church, and our Father God is the head. Not only that, but we have a new family tree as well. We are part of a legacy of the faithful people listed in the book of Hebrews. We are spiritual descendants of the great keepers of the faith: Abraham, Joseph, David, and many others.
If your family of origin is not healthy, or if you have lost family and feel alone, take comfort that God wants to be your perfect Father. Psalm 27:10 states, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” We are given the assurance in His word that God loves us and He has given us spiritual brothers and sisters—a faith family with which to celebrate the season.
God, thank you for giving me a faith family. Thank you for grafting me into your family tree and giving me a connection to others who have also decided to follow you.
If you are still looking for a church family, ask God to show you the place He has for you. Seek His wisdom to reach out and find the people with whom you can have positive, Christ-centered relationships.
Resource: Consider joining The Life Community.
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“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.” Revelation 22:1-3
“Dad, is there a pool at the hotel?”
Our car had no air conditioning. We eventually decided that sweltering with the windows closed was better than being slow-roasted by hot winds with the windows open. When we finally stopped, our sons couldn’t run fast enough to jump into the cool water.
Life can be like that journey—hot, draining, and exhausting—but for weary travellers who know Jesus, there is good news. Ahead lies a great river of life, pure and clear as crystal, flowing from God’s throne through the center of the city.
Believers will drink from that river and never thirst again. They will eat the fruit of its trees and never hunger again. It will be accessible to all without cost or limitation.
Jonathan Edwards wrote that if you follow Jesus, “all your bad will turn out for good; all your good can never be taken away; and all your best is yet to come.”
Yes, there’s a pool at the end of the journey, and it’s like none you’ve ever seen. It’s an eternally renewing river.
God and Jesus the lamb will be there. Sin, tears, and death will not. Will you?
Jesus, I am living in the midst of challenges and pleasures today. I cannot do otherwise. But I want to be anchored to Your eternal hope, looking forward to the great riches of being present with You and Your son Jesus. Help me today to be renewed in that hope as a source of confidence and joy. Amen.
One of the most important anchors you can have is to be grounded in the hope of a future in God’s presence. This is an ultimate hope that places all the concerns of this life in eternal perspective. If you truly grasped this great hope, what would be different for you today? Tell God where your perspective needs to change. Ask Him to renew your mind. If you haven’t already, visit thelife.com to join a growing community of believers learning to live completely committed to Jesus.
Resource: Center your life on Christ. Watch Treasure: Jesus is Worthy Everything.
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“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:27
There is something quite exciting about seeing your name on a list that gives you special access. It’s a privilege to see and experience things you otherwise wouldn’t.
Only those whose names are in the Lamb’s book of life will be given access to spend eternity with the Lord Jesus. It’s so exciting to know that our name can be written in that most amazing book. But it is also sobering to know that people we know, love, and care about may not have their names in that book. The implications are staggering; however, we have an incredible opportunity to make a difference.
We can share the love of Jesus with others so they, too, can know Jesus personally and have their names written in heaven. God gives us the ability and the knowledge to share with others. Maybe you feel that you don’t know how, yet it is simply sharing the story of what God has done in your life. He has forgiven you of your sins and you have received Him as your Savior and Lord. This is what He desires for all of us.
How would it feel to partner with God to see someone’s name added to that book?
Lord, You have given us the gift of salvation. I praise You for this. Thank You for loving me so much. I pray that You would give me courage to share with people in my life whose names may not be in that book. May I be forever aware that I have the greatest life-giving message to offer the people You have placed in my life. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Pray that God will lay on your heart one person whose name you would like to see written in the Lamb’s book of life. Then ask God to begin to show you opportunities to share your faith with that person. Seek God for the courage, know-how and boldness to share so they may know Him in a personal way.
Resource: Join with a Life Coach to pray for those you want to see in that book.
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“He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” Revelation 21:6
Think about Christ as the absolute beginning. There is no “before Christ.” For millions, billions, even trillions of years before time, Christ lived. He did not choose to become holy, powerful, or righteous. His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence have always been an eternal reality: “From everlasting to everlasting, you are God” (Ps. 90:2).
Christ is the consummate end of all things. How forceful are His words: “It is done”? What He began in creation will be complete: heaven and earth created anew; Satan, his evil work, and all who have rejected Christ, submerged in the burning lake of fire; all who have been reconciled with God through the cross, gathered in triumphant glory.
He is the source of our life forever. He bestows on us our full eternal inheritance. He is the fountain of living water that forevermore quenches our thirst.
John Piper says it beautifully: “For the thirsty, God is the beginning and the end the way a desert caravan begins at an oasis and ends at an oasis. God is a fountain of life at the beginning, and he is a fountain of life at the end—forever.”
Who in your life is spiritually thirsty and needs to find Christ?
Christ, You are the source of life forever. In You my soul-thirst is fully satisfied. Guide me to walk with someone today who is thirsty for You and help me to tell them of Your water for life. Amen.
Take ten minutes to drink a pure, cool glass of water. With each sip declare the way that Christ is your thirst quenching water for life. Who can you initiate a conversation with today about how their soul thirsts? Ask God for an opportunity. For tips on having spiritual conversations, go to thelife.com.
Resource: Learn how to Start a Spiritual Conversation.
Love can be dangerous. When you aim high and love lets you down, the fall is far.>Watch