Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT)
Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
On those days when we wonder how much longer? How much more can I take Lord? When will this trial end? When will I overcome? Will this test be over soon? Will life get any better than this? We all have those days even strong Christians who believe in the Lord. We walk by faith not by sight, but perception is influential to our flesh. We become tired and weary sometimes overwrought with the circumstances in our life. Then there are the seasons that we coast right through often taken for granted as easy – we miss the rest that is offered in such times worrying about things that really don’t matter at all. We wait on the return of Jesus Christ. But sometimes we forget what life is all about and allow the enemy to make it about something inconsequential and meaningless. Caught up in this holiday season of shopping, wrapping, cooking, parties and such. Running from this Christmas performance, chorus concert, band showcase, church pageant to the next. Wondering what the words “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas” really mean when there is no Santa Claus with an endless budget and surplus of gifts. It is time to stop and catch our breath for a moment. In the stillness of the morning with the Word of God, a steaming cup of coffee or a glass of our favorite tea, and stop running around trying to make life perfect. We need this time to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our heart and remind us what really counts. Christmas is not a vacation from our pursuit of Christ but the opportunity to focus on it. There were no light displays on the manager but a single star pointing to no ordinary baby but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There was no grand splendor of choral productions and epic soundtracks just angels singing over a newborn baby. It was a silent night. It was a holy night. All was calm and peaceful. Where is our peace in this season called Christmas? Where is our love? Where is our joy? Where is the King? He is with us. He is in us. He is beside us and all around us. We must remember this until He comes.
Matthew 24:45-51 (NLT)
“A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. But what if the servant is evil and thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
One favorite quote for Christmas among Christians is that “wise men still seek Him.” This is true, but are you seeking Him this Christmas? Am I? I must look inside myself and evaluate my own heart to determine if Christ is indeed the center of not only Christmas but every other day of my life. I am working on becoming a faithful servant to a Faithful Master. He has given me this life – everything and everyone in it. I am the steward of many blessings yet often I find myself complaining and wanting other things. I lose sight of the fact that I have more than I imagined. There are many, oh so many, things that I take for granted. The Lord has put me in charge of all that He owns. I have an endless supply of resources and everything that I need not only to survive but live a life worthy of being called a Child of God. Am I living it? He expects me too until He comes. When He comes back, it will be unexpected but it is hinted that the signs of the times will proceed His Arrival. Sin will be rampant. It is. Love will grow cold. It has. It will be as it was in the Days of Noah. Oh, the master is close. What must I do to be ready until He comes?
Matthew 14:28-31 (NLT)
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water. “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith, “Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
It is impossible to please God without faith. Where is our faith? Jesus will be looking our heart to find it. Will we have it when He comes? Faith believes. It is the foundation of confident hope that allows us to live above our circumstances, through every situation and withstanding every problem that we face in life. Tests and trials allow us to see how far we have come and how far we must go to fully trust and rely on the Lord. This is essential on the day that He arrives. Otherwise, everything we do in life is futile. Where is your faith? Has the storm in your life sucked it right out of you? He says, “Yes, come.” Will you keep moving in His Direction or give up when getting to Him seems impossible? The Lord will catch you in your weakness and then work to make you strong. Our strength is demonstrated in our weakness and inability to stand strong. This is when we allow the Lord to be our strength. We need Him to see us through. With each trip over the side of the boat, you will grow stronger. So don’t give up just keep swimming as Dory always says.
Matthew 11:27-28 (NLT)
“My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
What are you worried about today? Is it really worth all the stress? If you are a Child of God and Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we are covered. Why? God has entrusted EVERYTHING to Jesus. If He is Lord of our life, then the Master has entrusted us with just that “EVERYTHING”. Why do we suffer lack? Why do we do without? What’s the problem? I don’t know ask yourself. I am having to ask myself. “You have not because you asked not” only works if you believe. If I believe that Jesus Christ has complete control of EVERYTHING in my life, it should eradicate worry, stress, and anxiety completely from my life. I should live in perpetual peace, love and joy not based on my surroundings but surrendered to His Love. I will only give Him my burdens, if I trust Him to take care of them. Otherwise, I will be weary and carry burdens never intended for me that have already been laid upon the shoulders of My Lord. Where is my trust today? Without faith, I cannot please God. Without trust, I know that I am lacking in faith.
Matthew 19:20-22 (NLT)
“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Have you ever left a store and realized that you haven’t paid for something? Maybe you left a carton of soft drinks under the buggy? Or when you lifted your handbag out found something had slipped underneath it? What is your response? Did you feel guilty? Did you rush back in the store to make things right? Did you toss it aside and keep moving? I remember before I became a Christian thinking well that’s there tough luck or I am too busy to go back in or I will pay them for it on my next trip. After I came to know Jesus Christ, I have to make things right. What if every time we realized that we are hanging on to something that doesn’t belong to us that we ran back to Jesus to make it right, imagine the potential in our life. I can obey the Word of God to the letter (if such a thing were possible), but if I was not willing to follow Jesus what’s the point? I must determine the treasure in my heart. What is the value of Christ in my life? Is He worth enough to work to maintain a close relationship with Him until He comes? How much time do you give the Lord each day? What is the value of your commitment to Christ? Is it worth giving up some things or everything you hold dear?
Matthew 26:33-35 (NLT)
Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.
Peter believed in his heart that he would never abandon Christ. But he did… How many times have I abandoned my commitment to Christ? I think never. But that’s not true. Every time I decide to do things my way – I deny Christ. Every time that I decide not to tell others of His Great Love – denied again. Those times in life when I settle for lesser things or decide to compromise – yep, I have denied Him yet again. When I try to do it myself because I do not have the faith or patience to wait on the Lord. Every single complaint, gripe and grumble is my lack of faith and desertion of Christ in my life. Where is my commitment? It is something that I must evaluate and hold on to daily. I must be conscious of my relationship and proximity to Christ otherwise I will be inclined to follow my flesh. I must strive in my commitment to Christ – until He comes.
Matthew 21:8-9 (NLT)
Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!”
The day that ordinary men and women spread their garments on the street and deemed the “Triumphant Entry” wasn’t a special day. It was not preplanned or an organized event. It was a heart movement that became a great worship service. Where is our worship today? There are days when I head to the gym as part of my routine and other days that it is my therapy. On those days that I need therapy, I usually forgo the usually hip/hop workout mix to engage in worship. So as I begin to work on my cardio for a healthy heart, I invite the Lord to renew, revive and refresh the Spirit-filled part of my heart as well. We need to worship God every single day to prepare for our future. We worship every day to remain in His Presence. We enter worship to make it through this moment to the next as we graciously and boldly enter His Throne Room to scoop up the grace and mercy left there for us to have. God knows what we need and when we need it. He has already provided it. Worship takes us to where it is.
Matthew 19:13-15 (NLT)
One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.
Finally, have we lost our wonder today? We are to come to Jesus like a child. No kid ever worries about Christmas just whether or not they made the “nice” list. When we worry and stress about life in general, we lose our wonder. Wonder is that hopefulness that comes from the faith we have in our heart to expect the unexpected from our Lord and Savior. Our Master, Jesus Christ, wants us to have all the things that our heart desires but we must come to Him wondering what He will do next with expectant, faithful and hopeful hearts like a child. It’s Christmas. Well-lit and decorated trees still take my breath away. The smell of fresh baked cookies still makes me stop and breathe a little deeper. I still cry when my children open their gifts on Christmas morning in sheer elation. I wonder how the Father feels when I express such elation at all the great things He is working in me and through me. It’s Christmas! I have a long list of things to do until He comes. Not Santa, but Jesus. I must learn to live the life of a servant who is much like a child keeping residence in their parent’s home. May we never lose our wonder!
Philippians 2:1-5 (NLT)
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
I must not get wrapped up in all the negative feelings and emotions that this world has given the holidays when we celebrate thankfulness and giving. These are attributes and attitudes of Jesus Christ. He laid down His Life so we could live in complete fulfillment. We are to be filled with the love, joy and peace of total contentment and full satisfaction. These are found in things like faith, trust, commitment, worship and wonder for those who live in the Presence of God. Maybe you have drifted or wandered a bit, no worries. Come right in boldly into the Presence of Your Father – He’s been waiting on you. We must strive to have the same attitude as Christ until He comes. We must be tender and compassionate until He comes. We must love one another until He comes. Work together until He comes. I cannot wait until He comes!
Philippians 2:9-11 (NLT)
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.