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Archive for December, 2011

WITH DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF

 

Our Greatest Call

The church in Ephesus had many good qualities, yet they were lacking in one significant area: their love for Jesus Christ. They actively served Him. They taught biblical Truth. They refused to give in to the permissive culture around them. They endured hardships in the name of Christ. They were busy, committed workers for the kingdom.

Jesus commends them for their hard labor and endurance: “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary” (Revelation 2:2, 3).

Yet, in their sincere efforts to serve Christ, they forgot to spend time loving and adoring Him. They overlooked their prayer time with Him. They no longer worshiped God wholeheartedly. They were so distracted and bogged down by the work of God, they neglected their relationship with Him. Jesus warns them: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love” (Revelation 2:4).

Yes, Jesus wants our obedience. He wants to see us actively serving Him. He wants us to follow the Truth and shun false teachings. He wants us to remain dedicated to Him even in the face of persecution. However, upholding the Truth cannot replace our love for Him.

Throughout the Bible we read of God’s love for us—and He wants us to return that love with the same fervor and intensity. When the Pharisees asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37, 38).

Believing the right things and doing the right things are vital components of our Christian faith—we must continue walking in the Truth. But loving God must be at the root of everything.

How often do you stop to adore Jesus? Do you wait for Sunday worship service because you’re just too busy during the week? Do you neglect spending time reading His love letter to humanity because you’re consumed with projects and commitments? Are you allowing the busyness of the work of God to supplant your relationship with Him?

If you have let your relationship with Christ fade, follow His words to the Ephesians: “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:5, 7).

If you have ceased to love Him like you did when you first accepted Him as Savior, recalling the time when you were overwhelmed by the love of Christ for you. Recall the time when you were joyous over the forgiveness you received for your sins. Recall how you wanted to spend all of your time adoring and worshiping and thanking Him.

Then identify whatever is robbing you of your ability to love Jesus with all your heart. Reverse your course and return to that time when loving God was your primary focus. Recapture the time when you loved being in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Recapture the time when your love for Jesus occupied your thoughts, your desires, and your decisions.

Pray for the Lord’s help to remain in a state of love and adoration for Him. Pray that others will see your continuous love for Christ and they will turn their attention to Him.

“To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Mark 12:33

 

christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com

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Want Vs. Need
Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com Senior Editor

So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.” 1 Samuel 1:20, NIV

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? Or did you get what you needed?

What we want and what we need don’t often go hand in hand. There are things that I have wanted for a long time now that apparently the Lord has not seen to be necessities in my life just yet. I know he knows what is best for me, but it is still hard to wait. And it is difficult not to look longingly at what others have received and wonder why I cannot be the recipient of such things as well.

This kind of struggle is not new to any of us. And Hannah, who we read about in the first chapter of 1 Samuel, is a great example of how to live when what you want is not yet something God says you need.

For years Hannah had wanted to become a mother. To bear a child. To give her husband, Elkanah, a son—just like his other wife, Peninnah. Being barren was considered a disgrace for a woman in those times, so Hannah most likely felt ashamed and alone and perhaps like a societal outcast. Instead of turning away, though, Hannah took her sorrow and her request for what she wanted to the Lord.

We don’t know for sure how long she waited (perhaps years)—and we don’t know the exact purposes of God’s timing in her life—but we can still learn a great deal from Hannah’s example.

  • She was persistent and continually sought the Lord.She did not give up and stop asking the Lord for what she wanted. Like clockwork, Hannah kept bringing her request to God, year after year (v. 7). No doubt her want continued to drive her to the Father and most likely deepened her relationship with him.
  • She was blessed with a lifeline.I am quick to forget that the beauty in the midst of Hannah’s pain is that Elkanah loved her very dearly. I am sure this buoyed Hannah when she may have wondered if God would ever answer her prayer for a child. God was gracious in giving her a loving husband (v. 5, 8).
  • She did not give in to ridicule or naysayers.Even when Peninnah (who was fruitful and had children) taunted her because she was barren, Hannah did not add insult to injury (v. 7). She did not retaliate when ridiculed for her condition or her faith.
  • She shared her “want” and was encouraged by others.When the high priest Eli observed Hannah praying in the temple and inquired as to her condition, she shared with him what she was asking of the Lord. Eli encouraged her and asked God to answer her request (vv. 12-17).
  • She gave back to God what he had given to her.When God blessed Hannah with a child, she did not cling tightly to him. She kept her promise, let her son go and dedicated him to the Lord (v. 11, vv.21-28). That is model faith!

Like Hannah, are you waiting on the Lord to give you something you want in your life today? A new job? Reconciliation in your marriage? Blessing in your finances? A cure from illness? To find your soul mate? Victory over an addiction? A baby?

Each of us has something we want in our lives. But is up to God to decide if this is something we really need. May we continue to come to him with joy and thankfulness, as we acknowledge that he knows what is best for our lives.

Intersecting Faith & Life: Do you know that God has already given you what you need for this very day? Ask him to help you accept his plans and timing for your life—even when you don’t understand.

Further Reading:

James 1:17, NIV

 

christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com

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Walking the Floodwall
Ryan Duncan, TheFish.com

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” – Luke 2:52

I have a confession to make; last Sunday I skipped church. I actually had a very good excuse though; I wanted to spend more time with God. I know that sounds pretty strange, and I’m certainly not saying Christians should start ditching on Sundays, but that morning as I was getting ready to leave I couldn’t help feeling (much to my surprise) that the Holy Spirit didn’t want me to go to Church that day.

So instead, I stayed home and started reading the Bible. I’d only planned on reading two chapters that morning, but I ended up reading eight. Occasionally I’d re-read passages to let the words sink in or underlined verses that stood out to me. After I’d finished, I went outside and started walking. There’s a floodwall near my apartment that acts as a kind of jogging trail, and as I made my way across it, I talked with God.

I just started praying, telling God about the things going on in my life. My worries, my hopes, what I was grateful for, I let it all pour out as I made my way to the end of the trail. To be honest, it was the closest I’d been to God in a long time. Looking back on it now, I can see God has a sense of humor. Not only did I spend three hours meditating with God, (an hour and a half longer than my usual Church service) but the first chapter I read that morning was Luke 2, which contains one of Jesus own experiences with our Heavenly Father .

“After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.” – Luke 2: 43-50

Sometimes, Church can become a ritual. We go, we sing the songs, we sit through the sermon, and then forget everything once we’ve left. We allow our Sunday services to become our faith, and our time with God starts looking more like something out of a self-help seminar. But God doesn’t just want our attendance on Sundays, he wants us. I think this story in Luke to shows us what our time with God should really be like.

For Jesus, his Father’s house was a place of safety, a place where he could grow and mature, a place to listen and at the same time be heard. So the next time you go to Church, don’t go out of habit, but apply the lessons to your life, and when you sing, sing for Christ.

Intersecting Faith and Life

Take a day and spend some personal time with God. Pray and meditate on his words.

Further Reading

Luke 2

 

Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com

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If thou knewest the gift of God… – John 4:10
There are wonderful contrasts here! He who gives rest sits weary on the well-head; He who was the Jews’ Messiah utters His deepest lessons to a woman of Samaria; He that gives living water asks for water from the dark, cool depths that lay beneath them.
God’s best things are gifts. – Light, air, natural beauty, elasticity of the spirits, the sense of vigorous health, human love, and, above all, His only begotten and beloved Son. Among all other gifts is there one to be compared to this? The living spring of eternal life, which Jesus opens up in our hearts, and which so greatly differs from the pit of outward ordinance, is an altogether unspeakable bestowment. Nothing can purchase it. If a man would give all the substance of his house for it, it would be utterly contemned. It must be received as a gift, or not at all.
God’s gifts must be asked for. – “Thou wouldest have asked, and He would have given.” This is the law of heaven. Prayer is a necessary link between the Divine hand that gives and the human heart that receives. We have not, because we ask not. There is nothing in our Lord’s words of the dreamy and languid pietism which refuses to ask because it will not dictate to the perfect wisdom of God.
If we had fuller knowledge we should pray more. – “If thou knewest … thou wouldest ask.” If thou knewest who He is that stands beside thee, in thy hours of private prayer – if thou knewest all the possibilities of the life of prayer-if thou knewest what gains would accrue to thee on thy knees, thou wouldest give thyself to prayer, as though it were the main object of thy life.
F. B. Meyer   Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com

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Today’s ReadingZephaniahRevelation 16

Today’s Thoughts: Merry Christmas!

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

If you look at today’s verse, you see how it beautifully proclaims the birth of Jesus, our Savior. But if you look at its reference, you see that it comes from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. So often, we tend to focus only on the Gospels to learn about Jesus, His life and His purpose, but the coming of Jesus was foretold from the beginning.

Many people, even Christians, tend to focus on the New Testament writings more than the Old Testament. One year, we studied the book of Exodus in our women’s Bible study and the impact for most women was amazing. They were able to really see how God worked through His people. They learned new insights to His sovereignty, His mercy, His power, and His amazing love for us. And every week, we pointed out the message of Jesus. We found Jesus in every chapter. The study of the tabernacle went from words describing seemingly endless details of clasps and boards to a powerful understanding of how God just wants to dwell with His people. We looked at how that foretold of what Jesus would do when He came to earth. People who never really had an interest in studying the Old Testament left with a desire to study even further. I think many of them went into the books of Leviticus and Numbers. They discovered the awesome power of the Word of God…in the Old Testament.

The birth of Jesus was not just mentioned in the New Testament Gospels. If we see it only from that perspective, we miss the awesome sovereignty and love of God. God had a plan from the beginning. This plan was not begun in the New Testament, it was completed there. We need to be challenged and encouraged to read and study the whole Bible. As the year end approaches, now is the time to make some new goals for next year. Prayerfully consider beginning a reading program that takes you through the whole Bible in one year. If you have never done that before, you are in for a blessing of unimaginable value. It will change your life. The enemy will do everything he can to thwart these goals, but if you are persistent, God will prevail. And when you get to the book of Isaiah sometime next year, maybe you will remember today’s verse. If today’s verse and this reading stir your heart to make this commitment, then give God the glory when you get to it next year. We pray that you make this resolution and that you allow the Lord to truly bless you through His word. There is no greater Christmas gift than Jesus Christ, the living Word.

 

Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com

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The following was written to my team mates, but includes all those who read this, and even those who don’t.  I love the Lord.  You can believe whatever you want but this is what I believe and this is my stand.
Let me say this and if it offends anyone then let it. I have some of the nicest team mates anywhere in any game group. Problem is solved but let me tell you all this God is alive and able to do anything above and beyond what you can imagine. If not for this mess [ computer virus]I would not have had one of the most uplifting conversations I have had in a long time. Words can not express just how I feel. But know this God is alive and He is my Lord and Savior. NO this is not His real Birthday, but it is the day that is suppose to be ear marked to celebrate His birth. It does not matter what it was taken from, it is great that good has come from evil. You can do whatever you want, whatever your belief, and I respect that. But for me and my house we shall stand for the Lord. I will say Merry Christmas because this is what it means to me. A giving of gifts to others to show the love that I have for them because of the Love that He has for me. I do not make you believe as I do, I do not force my views on you, I will not kill you if you don’t believe as I do. You can do your thing BUT I am going to do mine. Merry Christmas and May God the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob Bless you from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head. That God being the One and Only Jesus Christ.

P.S. My computer is fixed all Praises go to the Lord. Amen So Be It. E[name]

God Bless
recj/LJG

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Do you think since Christmas falls on Sunday this year that some people will actually celebrate this day for the reason it is suppose to be celebrated?  How many of those that do not attend church who say they believe in God will even mention Him before the gifts are opened , if at all?  How many will share the story of the Birth of our Living Savior with children this Christmas day?
The following was send to me by Cindy [she is so sweet].  Yes Virginia there once was a man like Santa Claus, but the real gift comes from Jesus Christ Who is as real today as He was thousands of years ago.   Read and weep.
Jesus: Santa. Santa: Yes? Jesus: I’m sad. Santa: Why are you sad? It’s Christmas right? It’s your birthday! Jesus: Yeah. That’s the point … … … … Santa: Why? Jesus: because whenever its Christmas the kids only wait for you and not me! They only celebrate Christmas because of you! Why Santa, why not Jesus? -Dec. 25 is for Jesus not for Santa. ( LMS ♥ ] & Repost if You Believe in Jesus ! P.S He Knows You Looked ♥ – Deny me in front your friends and I will deny you in front of my father
God Bless
recj/LJG

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