Packed Up And Moving Forward

Shelves of boxes

Christmas is over, the new year is here. Most people have probably already packed up the Christmas ornaments and decorations, taken down their tree and are ready to move forward with the new year.

All those Christmas decorations and ornaments are packed up for another year. They will not be taken out until November or December of this year. They are hidden away in a attic, closet, shed or garage to not be seen until Christmas season arrives again.

During the Christmas season, everyone is quick to talk about the birth of Jesus, about giving and loving others. The focus for many, at least for believers, is why Jesus came to this earth. Churches are often packed out for the Christmas service. People go to Christmas concerts and performances. Radios play songs about the birth of Jesus.

Manger scene

Yet, as soon as Christmas is over and the new year has begun people move on. Very quickly the heart of Christmas is missing. Generosity is forgotten. Joy is gone. Jesus is often put back in a box, packed away until the right season comes along.

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. Luke 2:17-18

Looking back at the time of when Jesus was born, the shepherds were the first ones to learn about His birth. Immediately upon meeting Jesus, they went out and told everyone about what they had seen and learned. They did not pack up Jesus for the next season, but did it immediately.

While the bible does not say anything more about those shepherds, I often wonder if any of those shepherds later followed Jesus. How long did they keep talking about what they had seen?

Shepherd with sheep

I believe that they did not stop any time soon. This was a major event in their life. Think about it, how often do you suddenly see the sky filled with angels to bring you a message from God and you are able to verify the message is true? I have never had that experience.

There are experiences that I have had in my life that occurred 30+ years ago that I still talk about to this day. They had a major impact in my life. I want to continue to remember those experiences and share them with other people.

Drop in water

Trusting that you are a believer, Jesus has impacted your life. There was a point in your life where you chose to believe in Him and it changed your life. Do not stop at that point, keep allowing Jesus to impact your life and share that impact with others.

While Christmas is the season in which we focus on His birth, it does not need to stop there. Many believers are quick to talk about Jesus during the Christmas season, but quickly forget talking about Him after the season. Carry Jesus with you every where you go. Pack up the Christmas ornaments and decorations, but do not pack Jesus up until the next Christmas season or even until the next Sunday morning.

Child walking forward

Move forward in what God has for you, sharing what Jesus has done in you, for you and with you. Be willing to tell the world the good news. The good news of His birth gets better after His death and resurrection. You have great news to share, so go out and share it.

As this new year has begun, find out how you can draw closer to God. Find out how you share Jesus with more people. Do not hide Jesus away so that they world cannot know Him, but allow Him to shine in this dark world through you.

As you move forward in this new year, move forward in His joy, His love, His peace, His comfort, His strength, His life, His ways, His mercy, His grace, His patience, and His salvation given to you.

Psalm 24:5-6 To Receive Blessings And Vindication

Seeking for God

They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek  him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. Psalm 24:5-6 

The world does not even attempt to look for God. Instead, the world is constantly trying to disprove God. They do not want anything to do with God and want to do everything on their own.

Most people feel as if they have earned what they have and are proud of it. All the blessings that they have in their life is because of their own personal hard work. As they take this view, they push God out of the picture. Along with pushing God out of the picture, all morality is gone with Him. All that is left is judgement of guilt in the end.

David talks about who can ascend God’s holy hill and what they will get there. Those who live for God will get a blessing and be vindicated–cleared of all guilt.

This was written at a time when the Israelites were under the Law. It was do or die. There was no grace being shown. David was looking forward to the Messiah that would come–Jesus.

In order to receive these blessings and being cleared of guilt, people have to seek God. The world is trying to get the blessings without seeking God. Believers seek for God and what He wants. It is not about self, but about God.

Seeking God is taking time to find out what God wants. How does God want a person to live? What does God want a person to do?

God wants all people to follow Jesus. Jesus provided the truth and way to get to the Father. He provided forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit to give power to live for Him. These are the blessings of seeking after God.

As with all people, you have made mistakes in sinning against God. Seeking Jesus will lead you to repent and follow Him. Jesus will clear you of all sin and give you the blessing of getting to the Father.

Seeking the things of this world will fail you. They are temporary and fade away.

Put seeking after God at the top of your priority list as to what to do each day. As you seek Him, all other things that you must do will fall into place correctly.

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will seek after God with all of your heart; that you will find God each day; that you will know the blessings of serving God; and that you will know the forgiveness Jesus gives. 

Deuteronomy 11:16 Be Careful

Be careful

Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Deuteronomy 11:16

When traveling down a road on a longer trip, there are often many warning signs on the road. There are warnings of sharper curves, workmen on the road, speed limit changes, narrow roads or bridges, extra wide vehicles, low bridges, stop signs, crossing traffic, and many other warnings. These are placed on the road to help prevent an accident.

As a person travels down the road, he can be tempted to drive faster and ignore the warning signs. The temptation to follow what others are doing increases the desire to ignore the signs. Yet, those signs are there for a purpose, to keep the person safe from harm.

As the Israelites were getting ready to go into the new land of Canaan, they were warned about being careful of being enticed to follow false gods. The pressure to follow them would be great.

Traveling through this life has many different paths that people travel. All but one path leads to death and destruction. Only when a person follows the path laid out by Jesus, can a he gain life.

The world will throw everything it can towards the believer to get him to follow anyone or thing except Jesus. They try to make the false gods look good.

In today’s society, it not usually a physical idol that they worship, but other things or self. Currently, there are many that believe no matter what religious belief a person he has, he can still get to heaven. Or they push the idea Jesus is not real, and one can be anything he wants to be on his own, and it is acceptable.

The only way you, as a believer, can keep from falling for these false beliefs is to be careful and alert. You must keep a close eye on the path for warning signs that there is danger ahead. Being filled with God’s Holy Spirit will help you be careful not to be enticed into believing some false god. He will keep you on the path God has for you.

You must keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith, so that when the temptation to turn away from God comes, and it will, you will not be led astray. Be careful to follow God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength.

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will not be led away from God to false beliefs; that the Holy Spirit will guide your steps in following Jesus; and that you will worship and serve God alone. 

John 1: 38 What Do You Want?

Lake Scene

Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” John 1:38

One day as John the Baptist and two of his disciples were walking, they saw Jesus. John pointed to Jesus and told them that He was the Lamb of God. The disciples immediately left him and began to follow Jesus. When Jesus saw them, He asked them what they wanted and they asked Him where He lived. Jesus invited them to come and see.

When one person follows another person around, there is usually a reason. They are wanting something. What they want may be different for each person, but usually it is they want to know the person more and spend time with that person.

The one being followed has something that the other really wants. It could be money, friendship, experience, authority, position, fame, power or something more. Just being around that person can be an experience to some people.

There a very few people who follow Jesus that do not want something from Him. What that is can be different for each person. It can be healing, provision, blessings, peace, salvation, salvation of a loved one, love, direction and more.

While there is nothing wrong with any of these things or desires, the disciples of John asked something different. They wanted to be where Jesus lived. They wanted to be in His presence and learn from Him.

It is easy to get caught up in asking Jesus for things to make life a little better here on this earth. However, some of those things may not be the most important thing to desire.

Spending time with Jesus is the most important thing that a believer could ever want. Who one is around is who one becomes like. As one spends time with Jesus, he learns about Jesus, becomes more like Jesus, and knows what Jesus wants. In learning all these things he becomes more like Jesus.

If you want to become more like Jesus, seek to spend more time with Him. Find out where He is and follow Him. Take time out of your day to find out what Jesus is saying and doing. Learn to live your life as Jesus lived His.

What do you want from Jesus?

What do you really need from Jesus?

I pray today that you will follow Jesus with all of your heart; that you will seek to be with Jesus all day, everyday; that you will desire His presence above all else; and that you will be His witness in this world.

Luke 14:28 Consider The Cost

A building.jpg

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” Luke 14:28

Jesus was giving a parable about the cost of being one of His disciples. He used the illustration of a person wanting to build a tower. Before a person builds a tower, he must consider the cost before building, unless he wants to take a chance on being short on cash.

Starting a building project is easy. In America, a few years back it was very easy to get a loan to build or purchase a house. Banks and the government were pushing loans for people to be able to own their own house.

Many people rushed out to get a home loan and were able to start buying their own home. However, later many of those same people ran into trouble with paying for the home. They did not realize the costs involved of owning their own place. Homes were being repossessed by banks, because people could not afford them.

Along with new homes, there were many buildings being worked on and companies or individuals ran out of money to build the place. Some of those buildings sat half done for years before being completed, or never completed.

In both these cases, people did not consider the full cost of purchasing a home or building.

In the same way, there are many people who become Christian without really considering the cost of following Jesus. When a person begins to follow Jesus, he is to do it with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength.

It is common for people to follow Jesus, just to escape hell. They do not look at the full cost of following Him.

Following Jesus means that you will be sold out to Him, mind, body and soul. It will mean giving up a lot of your own personal agendas and dreams. It seeking what He wants and doing what He wants.

The cost can be very high, though worth it in the end. The reward for the high cost is eternal life in heaven with God.

Each day, consider the cost of following Jesus. Being willing to pay the price so that you will not be embarrassed when you hit a time of high price. The cost is high, but worth it!

I pray today that you will know the cost of following Jesus; that you will dedicate your life to following Jesus; that you will not fear the cost of serving God; and that you will be God’s servant for life.

A building.jpg

Luke 2:14 Peace…For Some

Peaceful Lake.jpg

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

The night that Jesus was born, some angels appeared to some shepherds in a field nearby. The angels told the shepherds that a savior had been born and how they would be able to find Him. They also began to praise God and proclaimed peace on those whom His favor rests.

The portion of this verse that is commonly quoted is “peace on the earth.” People like to hear about there being peace on this earth. This is even more encouraging to people who in an area of much turmoil or war.

Christians, along with many other people are desiring peace around the world. They want to see and end to war and fighting. This is a good thing to desire, but the angels never proclaimed peace all over the whole earth.

The angels proclaimed peace only upon those whom His favor rests. Not everyone on this earth has God’s favor. Not even everyone inside a church has His unmerited favor. Any person who has not repented of their sins and chosen to follow Jesus is an enemy of God. Where there are two enemies, there can never be peace.

Two enemies are always at war with each other, as long as they are enemies. God will always be at war with anyone who does not follow Him or obey Him. There are some who do not follow Jesus, but do not openly speak against Him, they are still enemies with God. If one does not follow and obey God, He does not love God, thus an enemy.

The peace the angels proclaimed is to be with those on whom His favor rests. God gives favor to those who love, obey and follow Jesus. Only those who have chosen to turn away from their own sins and self are truly following Jesus and thus receive His favor and peace.

As long as you are at war with God, you will not know peace.

If you are looking for peace, draw closer to Jesus. Become more like Him in following and obeying Him. It is then that God’s favor will rest upon you and you will know His peace. This is a peace that is peaceful regardless of what is going on in your life or in this world. A peace not everyone has.

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will live at peace with God; that you will love and obey God with all of your life; and that you will share that peace with others.

 

Matthew 19:29 Putting God First

Put God First

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29

Jesus talked about how hard it is for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It was because the rich want to rely upon their wealth to live and not God. Jesus finishes out talking by telling them that anyone who has left anyone or anything for Him, will receive much more and eternal life.

Giving up something now for something greater later is often hard for people to do. Investors tell people that they must give up a little money now, in order to have a large bank account later. Some people will follow that, while most will not do it. They do not see the value in giving up some fun now in order to have greater wealth later.

Following Jesus requires that a person puts Him first in his life. However, some will go to the point of following Jesus that they neglect others in their life. This was not what Jesus was saying.

Looking at the whole of God’s Word, one will see that they are to love every person. They are to work for their food. Following Jesus means that you will love every person and will also work.

The challenge is to not let other people or your work get in the way of doing what God wants you to do. In the Bible the people were to be willing to give up their land to follow Jesus. This was their livelihood, their job.

Today God may call you to leave a job in order to do another work for Him. He may call you to not spend the time with family members, in order to do another work for Him. This does not neglect others, but puts God and His work first.

Trust God today as you follow Him. He knows what your needs and responsibilities are. He will make a way where there seems to be no way. Be willing to step away from the things and people of this earth to follow God when He leads. He can do great things through you and redeem all the time. You will receive much more in the end.

I pray today that you will follow God with all your heart; that you will put God first in your life; that you will trust God’s leading in your life; and that God will redeem all that you give up for Him.