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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Too Busy for Jesus? BY RICK WARREN — DECEMBER 20, Saturday

“She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” (Luke 2:7 NLT)
One year when our children were young, my wife decided that I would get to choose where the family went on vacation. I decided I wanted to do a totally spontaneous vacation with no planning whatsoever. As a pastor and leader, every day of my life is planned out. Planning a vacation doesn’t sound like fun!
A totally spontaneous vacation when you’re married with kids is not a good idea. Without making any plans on the first five nights of that vacation in five different cities, we slept in our car during four of those nights because we couldn’t find a motel with vacancy. My kids were not happy campers. On the fifth night, we decided to plan ahead.
That vacation helped me understand what the Bible means when we’re told during the story of the first Christmas that there was “no lodging available” for Mary and Joseph.
The coming of the eternal God and promised Messiah had been anticipated for thousands of years. Prophecies foretold the truth that the Savior of the world would be coming. His birth would be so important that it would split history into B.C. and A.D. Your birthday is dated in relationship to the birthday of Jesus.
Yet when the Son of God came into the world, there was no room for him. The innkeeper missed a prime opportunity. If Jesus had been born in one of his rooms, the innkeeper could have built one of those big Las Vegas signs that points down and reads, “Son of God Born Here!” He could have charged a fortune for rooms! Instead he missed the biggest blessing of his life because he didn’t have room for Jesus.
We can’t be too harsh on the innkeeper for not having room for Jesus. We do it all the time.
We all resist giving him the importance in our lives that he deserves. We fill up our schedule with events that pale in significance compared to Jesus. We spend our money on the newest gadget and have nothing to give to God’s work around the world. We spend all our time advancing our careers and yet say we have no time to help others in our church and community.
As you prepare to celebrate Christmas this year, ask yourself this question: Have you left room in your inn for Jesus?
Talk It Over
  • What are some ways we fill our “inns” and leave little room for Jesus during Christmas — and throughout the year?
  • How can you create margin in your Christmas schedule to focus on the importance of Jesus?
  • What are some things in your life you need to say “no” to so you can say “yes” to a growing, vibrant relationship with Jesus?

A Little Bit of Heaven on Earth Gloria Copeland - Kenneth Copeland MInistries daily devotional 20 December Saturday

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another...even as Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:12-13
Living in a home filled with the love and the peace of God Himself is almost like living in heaven right here on earth. We all know that's true. And we long to live in such a home. Yet, time and time again, we shortchange our families. We spend our kindest words and our most winning smiles on those beyond our front door.
Have you ever wondered why?
The answer is simpler than you might suspect. Spiritually speaking, your family is under attack. You see, it is not only one of your most precious gifts, when it's operating in harmony, it's one of your most powerful resources. Satan knows that even if you don't—and he's out to destroy it.
His battle plan is simple. He will do everything he can to create strife in your home. He'll stir up feelings of self-pity and jealousy. He'll encourage you to nurse resentments and harbor bitterness. And through it all, his purpose remains the same: to divide and destroy your home.
When God's people get in harmony with each other, miracles start to happen. Their agreement creates an atmosphere in which God's supernatural, miracle-working power is free to flow! So Satan is constantly tempting us to spoil that atmosphere, to foul things up by being at odds with each other. All too often we fall prey to his tactics simply because we don't realize just how dangerous strife really is. One close look at the Word of God will solve that problem, however. James 3:16 says, "Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work."
Don't open the door of your home to Satan by allowing your family the "luxury" of a few quarrels.
Stop the destruction before it starts. Anchor yourself to God's Word. Find out what He has to say about the power of agreement. Stop looking at your family from your own limited perspective and start seeing it as God sees it—as a powerhouse! That way you won't drift helplessly into an argument every time a gust of emotion blows through your home.
Determine right now not to let the devil have your family. Instead, pray for them, support them and love them. Bring them together, so you can all enjoy a little bit of heaven on earth.
Scripture Reading:
Colossians 3:12-25

Prospering in Everything - Joel Osteen Ministries daily devotional 19 December Friday

“They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.”
(Psalm 1:3, NRSV)
TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Large trees represent power, majesty and stability. Have you ever noticed the difference between a tree planted by the water and a tree far away from water? The tree next to the water is much more healthy and vibrant. Its fruit and blossoms are more beautiful.
In the Bible, the Word of God is compared to water. When you are “planted” in the Word of God, your spirit is fed, and you grow strong just like the tree planted by the water. Trees planted by the water will yield fruit at the right season and will not lose strength. Today’s verse tells us that those who love and obey the Lord will prosper in whatever they do.
Do you want to prosper in your relationships? Seek God’s Word regarding relationships. Do you want to prosper in your health? Seek God’s Word about healing. Do you want to prosper in your finances? Seek God’s Word regarding finances. As you seek God and His Word and follow His commands, you will grow strong and prosper in everything you do!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
God, thank You for refreshing me with Your Word which is truth that sets me free. I choose to seek You first, I choose to trust Your Word and follow Your leading so I can be planted and strong in You in Jesus’ name! Amen!
— Joel & Victoria Osteen

Friday, December 19, 2014

Jesus’ Christmas List BY RICK WARREN — DECEMBER 19, Friday

“They bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their gifts and gave him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11 NCV)
For more than 50 years my family has kept a tradition of holding a birthday party for Jesus. It started when I was 3 years old and asked my mom, “What is Christmas?” My mom told me it was Jesus’ birthday. With terrific 3-year-old logic, I said, “We should have a birthday party!” And we did, complete with a birthday cake, Kool-Aid, songs, cake, and candles.
We’ve kept that tradition going for four generations now. The birthday party for Jesus has become a sacred time where we read the Christmas story and share what we’re grateful for and what we’re giving Jesus, which is one of the most memorable parts of the celebration.
Often, Jesus gets shut out during Christmas. Imagine I planned a party for you and invited many people. Everyone brings lots of gifts, and the invitees trade presents with one another — and you get nothing.
That’s Christmas. We give gifts to everyone but Jesus. But let’s be honest — what do you give the God who has everything?
Actually, Jesus doesn’t have everything. There are four things he doesn’t have unless you give them to him this Christmas:
Give him your trust. Faith is a voluntary matter. Jesus doesn’t have your trust unless you give it to him. He will never force it.
Make Jesus first place in your life. If anything or anyone other than Jesus holds first place in your life, it’s an idol. This Christmas, choose to make Jesus first in your finances, interests, relationships, schedule — and even in your troubles.
Give Jesus your heart. Your heart is what you love, what you value, and what you care about most. Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”(Luke 12:34 NIV). One important way you give Jesus your heart this Christmas is by giving your resources to his work. Jesus doesn’t need your money, but he wants what it represents — your heart.
Bring other people to Jesus. God wants a family more than anything else this Christmas. He wants children who choose to love and trust him. It is the reason we celebrate Christmas. Invite someone to Jesus this Christmas. Tell someone about what Jesus has done in your life.
The Bible tells us that the Wise Men didn’t give Jesus their leftovers when they visited him on the first Christmas but instead gave three very significant and valuable gifts:“They bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their gifts and gave him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11 NCV).
As you give Jesus your trust, make him first in your life, give what you value to his work, and bring other people to him, you’re giving him gifts far more valuable than the ones the Wise Men brought.
So tell Jesus “happy birthday” this Christmas. Give him your best.
Talk It Over
  • Why do you think giving a gift to Jesus is thought of so rarely during the Christmas season? 
  • What do you think it means to put Jesus first in your troubles?
  • Which of the gifts mentioned in the devotional today do you want to commit to giving to Jesus this Christmas?

Don't Settle for Second Best Kenneth Copeland Ministries daily devotional 19 December Friday

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
James 1:2-3
I admit, it's tough to be enthusiastic about going through tests and trials. But can you get excited about being totally supplied in every way, in want of nothing? Well, according to the Word of God, if you'll use your trials to develop patience, you're going to be in precisely that position!
You see, patience doesn't mean what you thought it meant. It does not mean settling sweetly for second best. It does not mean standing meekly by while the devil romps all over you.
No, patience is a powerful word. The New Testament meaning of it as translated literally from the Greek is "to be consistently constant or to be the same way all the time, regardless of what happens."
To understand how much power is involved in that, you have to realize that it's one of the most outstanding attributes of God Himself. The Bible says He's the same yesterday, today and forever.
Think about that for a minute. The guy who absolutely cannot be changed by anyone or anything is an extremely powerful fellow, wouldn't you say? Obviously, God has that much power.
But you know what? You do too!
By the power of the Holy Ghost working within you, you can be the same every day no matter what happens. If you'll put your trust in the Word of God and let patience go to work, it won't matter what happens. You won't ever have to accept anything less than victory again.
Now that's something to get excited about.
Scripture Reading:
2 Timothy 3:10-17

Go to the Place of Blessing - Joel Osteen Ministries daily devotional 18 December Thursday

“Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.”
(1 Kings 17:3, ESV)
TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
In the scripture, the prophet Elijah was living in a certain city. God said to him, “Leave this place and go down to the brook Cherith for I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” When he got to the brook, every morning just like clockwork, the ravens brought him food. He had his provision; a prepared blessing. Here’s the key. Elijah didn’t have to try to find the ravens. He just had to get to where God wanted him to be and the ravens found him.
In the same way, there is a place where God has commanded you to be blessed. The ravens are already there — your provision, favor, abundance. The real question today is will you do what’s required to get to your place of blessing? Elijah could have said, “God, I don’t want to leave. I’m comfortable. I like it here. My friends are here.” But if he had stayed, he would have missed where he was commanded to be blessed.
Are you willing to do what God is asking you to do today? Listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit inside, follow His leading, and enter into the place of blessing!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for leading me to a place of blessing. Thank You for sustaining me and empowering me to fulfill Your call on my life. I choose to follow Your leading so that I can be in the place You’ve called me to in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen