Make Your Choice

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”Joshua 24:15

Are you trying to live in two worlds? If so, then I know something about you. I know you’re not happy. Am I right? When you spend time around other Christians, you’re uncomfortable because of your sin. On the other hand, when you’re doing things you know you shouldn’t as a Christian, then you have the conviction of that sin.

I have an idea: Stop doing that stuff. Make your choice. As Joshua said to the Israelites, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Every one of us must make that decision. I can’t make it for you, and you can’t make it for me.

Are you in a relationship that is dragging you down (see 2 Corinthians 6:14)? Are you doing things that are weakening your resolve? Stop doing those things.

I’m not saying it is easy. We all get tempted. We all have a sinful nature. And as Christians we all have a God who will give us the strength to do what He has called us to do.

It really comes down to this: Do you really want to change? If you do, then God will give you that resolve. When the Lord came to Moses and spoke to him through the burning bush, Moses basically said, “I can’t do this. I don’t know what to say. I stumble over my words.”

But later in Exodus we see him facing off with the most powerful man on the face of the earth. That is because God gave him the strength.

In the same way, God will give you the strength to do what you need to do. Don’t live in two worlds. Make a complete commitment to Jesus.

A Hand to Hold in the Dark

“For You light my lamp; the Lord my God illumines my darkness.” – Psalm 18:28

Why are children afraid of the dark? Maybe it’s a fear of being left alone, a feeling of separation, their vivid imagination or shadows in the dark.

The fact is, children fear the dark for many of the same reasons adults do. It seems many fears intensify in the night especially sleepless nights. But I have good news: God is with us wherever we go.

Listen to a portion of Psalm 139(NIV): “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the Heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Like a loving Father, God offers us a hand to hold in life’s darkest hours. He’ll carry us through the darkness and lead us where we need to go.

Do these devotionals bless or encourage you? If so, would you please consider lifting me up in your prayer, so that I will grow in wisdom and continue sharing Christ through this media.

Christmas Everyday

Take a moment to read the story of the wise men in Matthew 2:1-12. I’ve got a little news flash for you: this event didn’t happen at Christmas; it happened much later. Verse 1 says, “Now after Jesus was born.” It wasn’t just a day or so after; it was quite some time later.

I say this because verse 11 says, “When they had come into the house.” Joseph and Mary were not in a stable anymore. By this time, they had moved into a house. Secondly, when Jesus was presented in the temple (see Luke 2:22-24), Joseph and Mary gave two turtledoves for the sacrifice. This was what the very poor offered if they couldn’t afford a lamb. But if they had received the gifts from the wise men before that, they would have had enough gold to afford a lamb. So the wise men’s visit took place much later.

There’s a reason I point this out. As Christians, we don’t celebrate Jesus Christ once a year for one day. We celebrate Jesus Christ all year long, every day. And that’s very important to remember now that Christmas is over.

But let’s go back to the visit of the magi, because they had the proper reaction: “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped him” (v. 11).

Their proper reaction was to bow before Jesus in worship and humility. And it’s the proper reaction for us as well. God wants you; He wants your heart. He wants you to commit your life to Him personally and to worship Him, like these wise men did.

Are you like the magi—following Christ, bowing and worshiping in humility?

When a person truly, honestly comes to Jesus Christ, they’re never the same. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). It’ll change you forever. Has it? Christmas is over, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Christmas is over; Christ is not. In a few short days, we’ll begin a whole new year of possibilities of what God might do. May God, by His Spirit, show us how our lives can be different, not just one day or one week a year, but the whole year. And may Christ be magnified in us, each and every day.

A Prayer for the Happy … and Not-So- Happy

“But the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!'” Luke 2:10-11

Today and always, I pray you experience God’s love through the gift of His Son, Jesus. And wish you a very happy holiday!

Heavenly Father I thank You and praise You today for the miracle of Your Son’s birth. Thank You for bringing great JOY to the whole world!

Thank You for giving us the assurance that because You came to us in the form of a human, we who believe in Jesus can know with absolute certainty that we’ll spend eternity with You.

I thank You, Lord, for the many reasons we have been given a joyous Christmas. And I rejoice for each blessing. New life. New love. New hope. A home. A job. New opportunities. Second chances. And more.

I know, Lord, that You bring the sun and the moon and set the stars in motion. You tell the ocean where to stop and the rain when to start. And I thank You for the mighty gift of Your creation.

Thank You, Father, for spiritual leaders and faith-filled friends who keep encouraging us when we are close to giving up.

And although I have many reasons to rejoice today, Lord, I also know that this season can be not-so-merry for a whole host of reasons. I pray for those who are experiencing loss at this time: relational, financial, spiritual and physical.

I pray for those who are coping with loving a prodigal and our friends and family members whose hearts are far from You. I pray for those dealing with unemployment and addictions and chronic sickness … and unending pain and frustrations of all kinds. Thank You, Lord, that You are The Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace, even in the midst of our not-so-merry circumstances.

Finally, Lord, I ask You to grant us peace. Peace in our homes, peace in our churches, peace in our nation and peace in our hearts, when the world all around us spins out-of-control.

Help us to stay focused on You, during this time and always. Thank You for loving the whole world enough to send the greatest gift, Your Son, so that we might truly have a very happy holiday. In Jesus’ Name, Amen and Amen!

God’s Gift To Us (Part 1)

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved John 3:17

When you’re a child, Christmas is all about receiving gifts. In December, your head is swimming with nothing but images of your favorite toys.

But the true message of Christmas is not the presents we give to one another. The true meaning is the gift that God gave to us, His Son Jesus Christ.

During the next two days, I want to point out to you three things about the gift God gave to us in that tiny manger in Bethlehem.

The first thing we want to realize about God’s gift to us is that it came in simple wrapping. Some people will go to great lengths to wrap presents beautifully. But God’s gift came to us not in beautiful, ornate wrapping, but in a dirty manger found in a cold cave in a little-known town called Bethlehem.

That’s the beauty of the Christmas event. Jesus took His place in a manger so that we might have a home in heaven. The Saviour was not wrapped in satin sheets, but in common rags. There in a manger rested the greatest gift in the plainest of wrapping.

The second thing I want to point out about God’s gift to us is that we don’t deserve it. Consider this: God gave us the ultimate gift of His Son Jesus Christ while we were still sinning against Him (see Romans 5:8).

We did nothing whatsoever to merit or deserve His gift. That is the amazing truth of Christmas. Despite who we are, God sent His Son so “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

With Christmas just days away, begin to prepare your heart for the celebration of the birth of our Saviour. Meditate on the fact that Jesus was born to die so that we might live.

The Gift of Forgiveness

He (God) is so rich in kindness that he purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son, and our sins are forgiven Ephesians 1:7

The holidays have a way of resurrecting old hurts. One of the greatest Christmas gifts we can give ourselves is the choice to forgive those who have hurt us.

Forgiveness is not easy – but it is necessary if we want to experience peace and joy.

Part of forgiveness is releasing the person from the debt we think they owe us. Refusing to do so extinguishes our joy.

Sometimes we just need to let go and cut our losses instead of allowing the weight of an unpaid debt to deplete our mental and emotional energy. In other words, we can forgive the debt and set ourselves free.

Forgiveness is a deliberate choice – not an emotion or a feeling. Feelings may or may not follow that choice, but God’s favor certainly will.

Honestly, when it comes to forgiveness, feelings are irrelevant, but obedience is crucial. Do not base the validity of what you are doing on how you feel.

If we make the choice to forgive, God will supply the forgiveness. There should be no limit to our forgiveness because there is no limit to His. Forgiveness is our greatest need and God’s greatest gift.

Father, I praise You for the love and forgiveness You so freely offer. I don’t understand how You can love me when I am so unworthy of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. To think that He died for me rocks my world. Please give me the wisdom and strength to forgive those who have hurt me. I want my life to be a living illustration of Your unconditional love and unending forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Pressing On

“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, – But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.” Philippians 3:13, 16

We find ourselves in so many difficult situations. Often it is so hard to discern God’s will. I could easily spend all my time asking “Why?” I could spend endless hours full of bitterness, fear or sorrow. But then what? What has this accomplished? Isn’t faith about trusting God even when things don’t go the way we think they should? Isn’t it His will for us to let go, trust Him and move on? But we want closure. There must be justice, revenge or something that has a semblance of fairness. Who says? Who started that rumor? Life is not fair.

Paul said that we see reality as if we were looking through a dark piece of glass. Things don’t always make sense. But God does. And the best advice anyone can give you was given by Paul. He writes, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” There was too much to do, too much grace to live with, too much love of God to celebrate. Why should we spend all our time looking backwards? Instead, Paul forced himself to look ahead. Why? Because if we are going to make it in this life Paul says, “we must hold on to the progress we have already made.” Today, hang on to the progress and maturity God has blessed you with. Let go of the past, let it go and press on. Return to joy and live the life God has for you.

Father, help me press on and not get stuck in the past. Help me look forward to the life You have for me. Help me see Your love, mercy, grace and peace. Help me pursue You and all that You have for me. In Jesus’ name. AMEN

Lord How Do I Trust Again?

Lord, I don’t want to do this again.

I glanced at my open Bible and read the Scripture verse in Jeremiah I’d committed to memorize the week before:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

As I memorized it, I had pictured a tall tree, its leafy branches hovering over the water, roots reaching for nourishment. The tree was laden with fruit, though everything else around it was burned and dry.

Now I sensed the heat coming my way. Hard decisions. Emotional uncertainty. Financial burdens.

With tears, I whispered the beautiful words over and over until they soaked into my heart: Blessed is the who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

Maybe you are in a hard place today. Perhaps it’s a place you’ve encountered before and it’s the last place you wanted to be. I pray that Jeremiah’s words bring guidance to you, as they do to me.

First, Jeremiah reveals that we can be honest about how we feel.

Sometimes, in that hard place, we don’t give space to the feelings trapped in our hearts. We somehow believe that acknowledging our emotions is a lack of faith.

Jeremiah doesn’t paint a pretty picture with his words about what is taking place. Instead, he describes intense heat that withers everything around the tree. But He also points to a God who is close by. Our God knows what we are going through. He’s our safe place.

While we are being strong for others, He will be strong for you and me.

Second, we can run to the life-giving Source.

Hard places require wise choices. Hard places can make you feel empty. Yet there is a promise of refreshing that runs so deep that we are strengthened and nourished in spite of what is taking place.

Last, let’s settle into this promise found in today’s key verse: When we remain close to God in the hard places, there’s fruit. Because I’ve walked this path before, I know it to be true.

Fruit might come through joy that makes no sense in relation to circumstances. Fruit can spring forth in laughter that erupts where darkness wants to take hold.

Fruit is the very real promise of eternity. Fruit is planted inside of us as we hold tightly to a faith that is bigger than we are.

I really don’t want to be in this hard place, but I know what to do. I’m pushing my roots deep in my faith. I’m clinging closer to my God in the midst of drought. I’m even anticipating the fruit that will drop from my live as a result.

Today, let’s whisper it together. Let’s hold close to it in the hard place: Blessed is the who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

Dear Jesus, today I intentionally walk to the water and I dip my roots in deep to find all that I need in this hard place. Thank You for being my Source. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Best Story Ever

…a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

I prayed that the Lord would give me fresh inspiration as I shared the sacred love story of Christmas.

Opening up my Bible, I read through Luke 1 and 2: that familiar story of the birth of Christ. The words leapt off the page that and filled my heart with awe all over again.

Most of us have heard the Christmas story a thousand times. There’s an old saying that familiarity breeds contempt. Surely we must guard against this! May we never become bored of the miraculous story of Christmas! 

Are you ready to experience a fresh rhyming twist on Luke 1:26-56 and Luke 2:1-20?

Then open your mind and ready your heart for the: Best Story Ever!

A Christmas Rap (When Sacred Love Came Down)

A long time ago an angel told a girl that she would have a baby and He would save the world.

Now Mary was confused ‘cause she hadn’t known a man, but her innocence was a part of God’s plan.

The angel said the Spirit of the Lord would make it happen, “He’ll be the Son of God. He will be a man of action!”

“May it be as you have said, I’m a servant of the Lord.

Blessed among women! I can’t wait ‘til he is born!” 

So nine months later on the night the babe would come a twinkle in the sky brought attention to God’s Son

The shepherds, they were chillin’ in the fields with their sheep. When the Angel of the Lord came and stirred them from their sleep.

“Do not be afraid! I bring good and joyful news That will be for every man, this will be a sign to you.

For unto you is born, in the town of David. The Christ! The Messiah! And He will be your Saviour!”

“Now listen, there is more – and you might find it stranger

You will find this baby, lying in a manger.”

Then suddenly the sky was filled with angels singin’ praise
Joyful songs to celebrate the One who came to save 

The shepherds said, “No way! Let’s go and check it out!” They ran to see the babe that the angels sang about
They came upon the child then ran to spread the word. And people were amazed at the story that they heard

O what a holy night, when sacred Love came down. To wear a suit of skin, to wear a thorny crown.

For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son. To reconcile hearts. It is finished! It is done!

Dear Lord, You are so awesome! Thank You for loving us and for sending Your only Son, Jesus, to reconcile my heart. Surely, Your grace is amazing.

Shame On Me

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

It happened suddenly and without warning. That’s what shame does. It shows up uninvited to steal your joy and accuse your soul. defines shame as “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.”

We avoid talking about shame because it is messy.

We see the earliest account of shame in the immediate aftermath of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden (Genesis 3). Prior to their sin, Scripture tells us they were both naked and unashamed. One chapter later they are sewing fig leaves together and playing a game of hide-and-seek with God. With that one forbidden bite came our first bitter taste of shame.

Like Adam and Eve, our human instinct is to hide our shame. We attempt to cover it with modern-day fig leaves, ranging from addictions to break our neck busyness. We bury our shame beneath perfectionism, good deeds and yes, even ministry service.

Some people are more prone to experiencing feelings of shame, while others seem better equipped to avoid its sting with a healthy understanding of guilt and grace. Those who grew up in households where shame was a main stay of the family diet will often turn around and serve it in their own families, passing it down from generation to generation.

Shame is not the same as guilt. Guilt says, “What you did was bad.” Shame says, “What you did was bad, so therefore, you are a bad person.”

Shame is not the same as regret. Regret says, “If I could go back and do things differently, I’d do this … or that.” Shame says, “I’ll never get it right. I’m a failure.”

Shame is not the same as embarrassment. Embarrassment says, “Everyone experiences embarrassing moments.” Shame says, “Yet another reminder that I’m a loser, and nothing will change that fact.”

Guilt is always connected to behaviour, while shame is always connected to identity. While guilt draws us toward God, shame sends us away from God.

We can’t completely abolish painful reminders of shame that show up uninvited on the doorsteps of our souls, but we can refuse to answer the door.

And that’s exactly what we must do when the old shame tapes began to play. We must hit the “eject” button and boldly declared out loud today’s key verse,”There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Over and over, we should proclaim it until we believed it. I showed shame the door. And you can, too.

Heavenly Father, when feelings of shame pay me an unexpected visit, help me immediately usher them out by declaring Your unfailing love and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.