Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. – 1 Corinthians 14:1-3
In spiritual assessment tests, I have many times had the gift of prophecy be included in my top three gifts. Does this mean I can tell the future? No. I think a clearer understanding may be found in the dictionary. Merriam-Webster defines prophecy as: 1) an inspired utterance of a prophet; 2) the function or vocation of a prophet; specifically: the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose; and 3) a prediction of something to come. I connect more with “an inspired utterance” or “the inspired declaration” and this can be seen and heard in my writing and speaking.
The important part though is finding our gifts and using them. God gave them to us with a purpose for his kingdom. Following God means to use our gifts … I think it is sin not to use them … a sin of omission. Of course, it all rests on the condition of our hearts. Do we go grudgingly to find out and use the gift God has given us or do we run free towards the gift like on Christmas morning?
Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank you for the gifts you have given me and the opportunities to use them. I pray that I do not take them for granted. Amen
Faith Tip: If you do not know what your special gift from God is yet, seek it out today. God gave it to you with a purpose. You are blessed to be a blessing.
But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. – Romans 14:23
My husband loves to decorate the deck for Christmas with lights and other decorations that we purchased from Bronner’s in Frankenmuth. One year, I wanted to try to cut down on the electric costs so I invested in solar lights. I thought they would work just as well and we would pay a lot less in utilities. Wrong … the lights hardly ever came on since it was cloudy most of the time. When they did come on, it was only for a few minutes and then they would fade out again. Needless to say, we should have gone with economical plug-in lights. It would have been a sure thing.
When we live our Christian life, we come across situations that we need to choose what we should do. It’s not always clear what choice we should make. Sometimes the sure thing isn’t very appetizing and we steer towards the temptation that will probably work. This is not using our faith, but our human desires in making a choice, so we have already made a wrong decision.
Following Christ is the sure way to live. Any other direction leads to our downfall.
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for being my guide. I pray that I can stay on track in following you through today. Amen
Faith Tip: The next decision you make today, choose what is sure.
God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness. – Romans 3:25-26 The Message
Jane didn’t know how she would pay for the gifts she wanted to buy for her children for Christmas, but she desired to give them a good holiday experience. It was true she worked two jobs and still struggled with making ends meet, but if she was extra careful, maybe she could make payments of the gifts in layaway at the store.
About a week after Jane put the items in layaway, more bills poured in and she knew it would be impossible to purchase the gifts. Having a roof over their heads was more important. Tears of frustration flowed just when the phone rang.
“Hi, is this Jane Bradford?”
“This is Mike Smith, manager of Buy It Right. I have the pleasure of calling you with great news. An anonymous donor has paid for all of your layaway items as a Christmas gift. Not only you, but many others, too.”
As that generous person made it possible for Jane to give her children gifts for Christmas by paying her bill, God paid the price for us so we could live eternally with him. The bill of our sin kept coming in and there was no way we could cover the cost. Jesus paid it all.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I thank you for paying my bill of sin. I pray that the grace you have shown me, I will show to others and in doing so, they will see you. Amen
Faith Tip: Reflect on the true gift given to you by a very generous God who loves you.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” – Mark 10:51
During the holiday season, I have heard many times through the years what people want for Christmas is peace on earth. To achieve peace, there is a cost. I know to experience peace, it begins with me. I have to claim the peace of Christ, share the peace of Christ, and keep the peace of Christ in my choices throughout the day. If I choose to fulfill a flesh desire, I will not have peace. I must be willing to give up my wants to achieve the goal of peace.
Do we really know what we want Jesus to do for us and are we willing to work with Him in our choices that will point to that goal, or will we go back to meeting our human wants? Choosing the healing from our brokenness is important in knowing the steps we will take next allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us to victory.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for asking me the question of what I want You to do for me. I pray that I seek out your plan for me and pray into the journey to victory. Amen
Faith Tip: Consider how you might want Christ to heal you. Tell Jesus about it and be ready to follow.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13
It’s difficult to see people struggle financially especially during the holiday season. We all have an idea of how Christmas should be and what people should have to make it perfect. Perhaps you have heard stories of people with children who buy expensive gifts only to have the children more interested in the boxes they came in. There is one ingredient needed to make Christmas perfect … Jesus.
Life circumstances change for all of us day by day. We really don’t know if we will go hungry or have a place to live. We could become sick. Each day holds so much. Whether we are rich or poor, healthy or sick, hungry or content, those who have Jesus have the perfect need satisfied for any day. This Christmas gift is for all. Because of the baby in the manger, we can be content always.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the wonderful gift of Jesus. I pray that my focus will be on this gift more than any other. Jesus fits perfectly in my life. Amen
Faith Tip: Discern how you can share the gift of Jesus to those looking for other things to be content.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16
I saw a flicker by the Christmas tree and looked up. The top portion of lights was burning brighter than the bottom. I wasn’t sure why that was happening until a few moments later when that whole section of lights went dark. It is disappointing to have half of a Christmas tree lit up. The dark area doesn’t allow the beauty of the tree to be seen.
Our Christian walk is like that. The light of Christ that we embody needs to be shone brightly in a dark world. The beauty of Jesus cannot be seen and experienced if we choose not to shine. Like those lights on the tree that went out, we are to shine God’s light the brightest we can until our time on earth is done. The light will carry us to our new home in heaven never leaving its home in us.
Prayer: Jesus, your light that shines is the most beautiful. I pray that I confidently shine it to all I see today. Amen
Faith Tip: Don’t hide the beauty of God’s light. Brighten up dark places today with it.
What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other. – Romans 14:6-9 The Message
I remember a song from The Sound of Music with a line, “These are a few of my favorite things.” I know my list includes coffee, dark chocolate, red and gold decorations at Christmas, instrumental music (especially violin), and Greek yogurt. So if a day is more challenging than planned, thinking about these things can help calm the seas of my spirit. God is so loving and compassionate, he gives me things that bring me joy, and knowing where all these great things come from allows me opportunity to give glory to God.
Humans are created with great detail and so different. Things that bring me joy may give someone else the gag response. That’s okay. If I insisted that someone love coffee or violin music, that person wouldn’t be enjoying the gift that God has especially made for them. I would be blocking God’s blessing.
Celebrate the differences in our lives by fully enjoying God’s wonderful gifts and giving him all the glory. We can do this together in having respect for each others’ preferences. I imagine heaven is going to be a lot different than we expect, and having a glimpse into what is to come is given in Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
Prayer: Lord, you are holy, holy, holy. Proclaiming that fact side by side with the brothers and sisters you have placed around me gives me joy. I pray that we may be one in you. Amen
Faith Tip: Today be open to different styles and preferences of others.