“GIVE AND TAKE?”

“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?'” Mark 10:17 NIV

Read: Mark 10:17-31

Have you spent this last year giving a lot more than you received? Has someone else taken the glory and left you with the garbage? Welcome to the world Satan controls through his evil ways.

You may know one of those ‘takers’. They may work with you and even be a family member. A well respected pastor told me after years of guiding churches, it is no different. Even in our churches we have givers and takers.

He described the givers as always giving. They always give. The givers donate their money, their time and their talents without being asked. Usually, those who tithe and give special offerings are the same who take part in the leadership of the church. The head committees, teach Bible study, visit the sick and help with maintenance and clean up.

The takers take. In general they are full of opinions and will tell you what the church should or should not do. They are ready to condemn but will not normally donate money, time or talent unless being asked and usually have an excuse for not doing even then. On rare occasion, they will assist but you cannot depend upon them to help on any consistent basis. You probably know someone like this.

JESUS met such a man. He was ready to follow JESUS as long as he did it his way, not GOD’S way. When asking JESUS what he must do to have eternal life, JESUS told him to sell all he had. Not wanting to give up his riches, he turned and walked away. He was willing to take all JESUS offered, but not was not willing to give.

Before this year ends, make a special donation to your church. Tell your pastor how much you appreciate his efforts…personally. While you are at it, tell someone on your church’s staff how much you appreciate them as well. Then make a commitment of your money, time and efforts to do more for GOD this next year.

Matthew 25:40 tells us: “Whatever you did for the least of your brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Revival Ministry is also in need of your support. Without your kindness, the radio ministry is most in jeopardy. Thousands hear GOD’S word through these broadcast. We cannot reach these listens, send Bibles to those without, send these devotionals around the world,or bring the lost into neighborhood churches without your help. Will you mail a tax deductible gift today or click on the donate button below? If you wait for someone else to give, it will not happen. Ask GOD what HE wants you to do. Please help!

Today’s Prayer: “JESUS, Thank you for offering me eternal salvation. I want to follow you in all I do. I will give my money, time and talents to help spread your word in any way I can. Amen.”

“WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME?”

“Come, let us bow down in worship,let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;” Psalm 95:6 NIV

Read: Psalm 95:1-11

There are lot of last times in our lives. Some are more memorable than others and some are very much more important than other last times. We can be thankful that some things were really the last times and we don’t have to go through those times again. For other things, the last time was much too long along ago.

When was the last time you physically went to your knees in prayer…a real one on one with GOD? As the old chili commercial said; ‘well, that’s been too long’. GOD is waiting to hear from you.

We just celebrated the birth of JESUS. How many times during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day did you take time to find a quiet place, kneel on your knees and thank HIM for all HE has done for you?

If you are like most of us, you have not gone to your knees often enough. The JESUS whose birth delivered HIM to us will deliver you today from all your sins. HE is waiting for you. Now would be a good time to go to your knees. Thank HIM for all HE has done for you, ask HIM for those things you need and for the salvation of others.

Start today and set up a time when you can go to your quiet place everyday and have a one on one prayer with GOD. Make it part of your day…everyday. Find peace and blessings untold when you have your own private prayer time with GOD.

Today’s prayer: “LORD, Thank YOU for hearing my prayers. I have not been faithful in my prayers to YOU. Help me make our prayer time a part of my daily life. Amen.”

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  

(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  

And everyone went to their own town to register. 

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 

He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 

This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

LUKE 2:1-20 NIV

Today’s Prayer: “LORD, MY SAVIOR, Thank you for coming to earth to take on all my sins. Be with me today as I tell others the story of your birth. Amen.”

 

“THREE WISE MEN?”

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magia from the east came to Jerusalem”

Matthew 2:1 NIV

Read: Matthew 2:1-7

Do you have a Nativity displayed for Christmas? How many ‘wise men’ or ‘kings’ do you have displayed? Do you know how many wise men actually came to worship the newborn KING? If you think three…you might be right…or not.

While their coming to bow to JESUS is well documented in scripture, the number of kings from the east are really not known. We know of the three gifts they brought, but not of how many came. There was likely a caravan of several very educated men who were familiar with the Old Testament and well aware of Jewish teachings. This caravan could have been quite large, with helpers to bring the riches loaded upon upon camels, numbering perhaps a dozen or more travelers. The number of three is not detailed anywhere in the Bible. It was not until the sixth century this number was discussed and then several hundred years later until there were additional writings of these three wise men’s journey. All in all, it does not really matter if there were two, three or more. We also hold in tradition the names of these three wise men. But, check your Bibles; there is no Biblical record of the names of the wise men. What is important is they came to worship GOD’S SON as prophesied.

What other things do we associate with Christmas that are pure tradition and not part of the real reason for the season? We put up Christmas trees, sparkling lights and hang mistletoe from the center of a door frame. These are great fun traditions, yet the birth of our SAVIOUR is not about these things.

We need to be careful of traditions. When we allow the tradition to be created idols, we are in trouble. These traditions and customs can be very dangerous to our true faith. Following tradition if we are not prepared can cause us to wander from the truth of our LORD’S scripture.

Enjoy these traditions, keep them alive for your future generations. They can be part of our heritage. But, keep them in proper perspective. In two days, we celebrate the birth of our LORD and SAVIOUR. HIS birth, life and resurrection are always above all else.

Today’s prayer: “LORD JESUS, Thank you for coming to earth to fulfill the promises of our FATHER. Help me keep all things this Christmas in proper perspective and keep YOU above all else. Amen.”

 

“THE FIRST WRAPPED PRESENT!”

“and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2:7 NIV

Read: Luke 2: 1-21

One more roll of wrapping paper and a little more cello tape and you might be done! You have the kids’ gifts all wrapped. Your spouse, mom and dad, Aunt Julie, a couple of co-workers and of course your boss are all taken care of with special paper and cards.

With a little doubt and a little fear, you think; “Who did I forget?” With planning Christmas dinner, decorating, assembling toys, and running hear and there, it is easy to forget someone. If you are feeling stressed at this time, it is no wonder. But, it is wrong.

There is no reason to be stressed. Christmas is a time of celebration…a time of joy and peace. We are to celebrate the birth of JESUS, our SAVIOUR. We have no reason to put our worldly customs ahead of the real reason of Christmas.

Take a moment to relax and remember your Bible’s account of CHRIST’S birth. From the angel coming to Mary to the wise men from afar, everything about your LORD’S birth is special.

So, when presents are opened and someone is screaming open mine first, remember the Christmas story and who wrapped the first present. So, who did wrap the first Christmas present?

Mary, of course! As a new mother she wrapped the first Christmas present, the gift from GOD, in swaddling cloths and laid HIM in the manger’s crib. JESUS, the first Christmas present and the best gift you will ever receive.

Tell this story of “the first wrapping of a Christmas present’ to others today. Share the story of JESUS.

Today’s prayer: “JESUS, Thank YOU for coming to save me. Today, help me lay my selfish thoughts and desires aside and focus on telling others your story. Amen.”

 

“WHOEVER STARTED THIS MADNESS SHOULD BE SHOT!”

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV

Read: John 3:16-21

With kids in tow, the frustrated and tired mom maneuvered her way thru the crowded department store. Third floor for Dad, second floor for Mom, and fourth floor for her nieces and nephews with her own two kids wanting everything they saw.

Mom was overwhelmed, just as you may be, with only a few days left before Christmas. Finally, it was time to leave and she struggled to the elevator holding her little one’s hand. The elevator was full! Not giving up, she forced her way into the crowded elevator.

As the door closed, she could not take it anymore and blurted out; “Whoever started this Christmas madness should be shot!”

From the back of the elevator a calm and wise voice responded, “No need to shoot HIM, our SAVIOUR was crucified 2,000 years ago.”

The elevator became a soundless vacuum. You could not even hear a breath being taken. The voice of wisdom from the back of the elevator gripped the mom and everyone else in the elevator with the real reason for the season.

During all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, do you stop and thank GOD for sending HIS SON who was born only to die for your sins? We should be graciously celebrating the birth of our SAVIOUR while remembering that in a few short months, we will be gratefully mourning HIS death on the cross for all of our sins so we can live with HIM forever.
We cannot and should not celebrate Christmas without being grateful for HIS gift to us. The story of CHRIST in not just about HIS birth.

JESUS was born and died for you.

Today’s prayer: “JESUS, Thank you LORD for being born to die for my sins. YOU make the unworthy worthy. Help me keep YOU as the reason to celebrate the season. Amen.”

 

 

“WHY ME, LORD?”

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;” JEREMIAH 1:5a NIV

Read: Psalm 23: 1-6

Johnny Cash sang “Why me LORD? What have I ever done? To deserve even one of the blessings I’ve known…” Have you ever asked; “Why me, LORD?” This question usually goes one of two ways.

We sometimes ask GOD when by our definition things are going not so well. It may feel like one tragedy after another and problems appear to never end. Problem after problem and we scream out “Why me, LORD?” Instead of asking GOD for HIS help we lay the blame for all our wrongs on our creator.

We can learn from the song’s last verse; “Now that I know that I’ve needed you so, help me JESUS. My soul’s in your hand, JESUS, my soul’s in YOUR hand.”

Why me, LORD? You can hear Gods answer when you simply give yourself to GOD. When you stop looking for someone to blame or are feeling you are at the bottom of the trash can, you can see GOD has a way out of your situation. GOD’S way out is by faith. HE wants goodness for you.

The other time you may ask; “Why me, LORD?”,may be when you feel unworthy of all GOD has for you. When you ask HIM “Why me, LORD?”, feel the blessings of knowing you are blessed! A good health report, a new friend or a new job could all be things you feel you do not deserve. Know that you are deserving.

Keep in mind; “JESUS, my soul’s in YOUR hand” during your questioning fears and during your blessings!

Today’s prayer: “LORD, I know my soul is in your hands. Help me to be dependent upon you during my trials and my blessings. Amen.”

“I WISH, I WISH, I WISH!”

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7 NIV

Read: John 15: 7-11

When I was growing up, before Christmas, Sears & Roebuck would send out their catalog which we called the ‘wish book’. Children across the United States would sit for hours scouring every page with a pen in hand to circle all they wanted for Christmas. From baby dolls to tanker trucks to shoes and new clothes the ‘wish book’ was well marked. It was easy to wish for this and that, but there was a reality in the backs of our minds that it was all truly a wish and few of the items would ever be seen.

Today, we have the internet. With almost every retailer online, eBay, Amazon and more and all with 2 or 3 day shipping, we can have almost anything almost instantly. Desires have turned into instant gratification. There is little wishing in our instant society.

Yet, material desires often turn into disappointments over time. From buyer’s remorse to created debt to the item becoming obsolete, what we wished for suddenly has little value to us. Then, we need a new wish. What are you wishing to have immediately? Wouldn’t it be great to have a ‘wish book’ and all Your needs were fulfilled? Notice, I said needs not wishes! GOD offers all this to you. HIS Bible describes all of HIS ‘wishes’ for you. Your needs are fulfilled through GOD’S wishes for you. Book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, GOD’S wishes are spelled out for you. No, it is not a catalog ‘wish book’ to satisfy your material desires of things. The scriptures will give you the greatest gift…the stepping stones to eternal salvation with GOD!

Today’s prayer: “Lord, Thank you for all you do for me. Your word assures me you will take care of all my needs. Help me to be more dependent upon you. Amen.”

“THEY DESERVE IT!”

“The wicked band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.” Psalm 94:21 NIV

Read: Psalm 94: 14-23

Married for years and by an outsider’s view it was suddenly over. Those not close started the gossip. ‘He did …’ and ‘I heard he…’ were on the lips of many. It seemed everyone had an opinion based upon speculations and total untruths. For some after assessing blame, they added ‘He deserved it’. Did he really deserve it? As time past, all the rumors against the husband were proven wrong. He was a faithful husband. Before the divorce was final, the wife was living with the man she had been in an affair with. The husband who was wrongly accused struggled and raised his young children alone.

In another situation, a teenage son was arrested. Again, the rumors spread from lips to lips. ‘He always was trouble’ and ‘I heard he…’ fueled the flames. Meanwhile, the parents were having a difficult time. The legal bills were a burden and there was no one coming forward to help. In the weeks following, the son was cleared of all charges and his ‘best’ friend was arrested and plead guilty to all the charges. The young son who had been slandered and gossiped about was proven ‘not to deserve’ what had happened.

Two thousand years ago, JESUS was slandered and wrongly accused. Many stood by and watched with the words ‘He deserves it’ when he was tried, beaten and crucified. The evils HE took on for each and forgave HIS believers, we don’t need to repeat today.

When was the last time you looked at a situation and said ‘they deserve it’. We often…too often…are quick to condemn and accuse. Condemning and accusing is not our job. It is GOD’S job. We need to let GOD do what GOD alone will always do better than us. What we need to do is offer support and kindness. We can support others through sincere prayers and letting them know they can call on us during their difficulties. Even if they did something wrong, a Christian shoulder may be just what they need.

Take ‘they deserve it’ out of your vocabulary. Replace the guilty criticism with “I want to help you!”. Reach out to those in need. 

Today’s prayer: “GOD in Heaven, Thank YOU for forgiving me those times I deserved to be condemned. Help me be more supportive and less critical of those in difficult situations. Amen.”

 

“BURY THE HATCHET!”

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12 NIV

Read: Hebrews 8:10-13

For hundreds of years, some Native American tribes would declare a peace treaty with other tribes. In good faith and as a show of their intended actions of peace, they would bury their hatchets, spears, bows and arrows in a peace ceremony. Today, we get our ‘bury the hatchet’ phrase from this century old custom.

We use the phrase ‘bury the hatchet’ to mean we are forgetting and forgiving the actions of another and just maybe our own actions. We might be better off in forgiving if we literally dug a hole and buried those old memories and hostile words and actions. Doing it is much better than just saying it.

Is there someone in your life that you should ‘bury the hatchet’? It takes two to end an old negative situation and put it behind, but it only takes one to start the opportunity. Take the initiative. It is an opportunity that is probably very long overdue.

Besides an acquaintance or family member, there is ONE who is ready to ‘bury the hatchet’ for you. JESUS was sent to earth by HIS FATHER and yours with one purpose…to forgive you of your sins. Forgiveness of sin…there can be no greater hatchet to bury. Unlike two of us that have been at odds and it takes two to forgive, JESUS can do it all. Perfect in every way, HE can still take on the sins of this world and remain even more perfect.

Talk to HIM today. Ask JESUS to forgive those sins that you have carried too long. Only JESUS can take those sins away. There is no other way. Let JESUS bury your hatchet today.

Today’s prayer: “LORD GOD, Thank YOU for sending YOUR SON to forgive me of my sins. Give me strength to reach out to the one whom I need to ‘bury the hatchet’. Amen.”