Paid in Full

 

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.

“Hello”

“Hi, is this Jane Bradford?”

“Yes”

“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.


 

Showing love

Phenakistoscope 3g07690d

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Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Being married gives many opportunities to show the other person how much you love them. It’s not only on special days like birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day that affection can be demonstrated, but every day. As we trust, help, encourage, pray for, and do other things for our spouse, we live out our love for them. We want them to know our heart for them.

We can live out our love for God in much the same way. We invite God to know how our heart beats for him. To test, practice and know, we are putting what we have learned to practice in loving God. We increase our trust, avail ourselves to his leading and follow obediently, we praise him for all he has done, and seek his face in all things. That is showing our heart to God in a real way.

Prayer: Lord, I love you. Please search me and know my heart for you. Thank you for always be so faithful and loving. Amen

Faith Tip: Show your love to God today and invite him to search your heart.

Traditions vs. obedience

Ways to celebrate holidays may be passed down ...

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“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions” (Mark 7:8).

Traditions are actions we do just because we have always done them. In fact, we have done them so often that we have made it a “law” on how things should be done. Holidays are usually full of traditions. For example, at Christmas many people put up a Christmas tree. Is a Christmas tree necessary to celebrate Christmas? No, but many would feel like something was missing if the tree was not lit up. It has become a tradition. Would that same feeling be felt if Jesus were missing from the Christmas celebration?

Traditions are fine until they take us from what we are to be doing in obeying God. If we are to worship the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind, but instead are worshipping the tradition, this is wrong. If we have a tradition of how the worship service at church needs to be, yet don’t love our neighbor as they come in looking different than us and desiring a different style, it is wrong. We are worshipping the tradition rather than obeying the command of God. It’s all a matter of the heart.

Prayer: I thank you, Lord, for your commands and pray that I may not overlook them for a tradition I have established. I pray that I let go of any tradition that comes between you and me. Amen

Faith Tip: Think about traditions you may have and see if any are taking you away from obeying God.

Happy New Year

Times Square New Years Crowd

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:5)

As the year comes to an end, we reflect on all that has happened. There were times of amazing joy along with the times of difficult struggle. Hopefully, we have grown from these experiences and learned more about God and his purposes.

As the New Year begins, there is a sense of newness. Resolutions are made to try new things, or to try to make ourselves new through the application of disciplines in our life. While these are good things to do, God has a promise for us. He is going to make everything new. While this specific promise is for the new world, doesn’t God give us opportunities every day to be recreated in some way? Each day holds a promise of hope. God has the power to make us new and, if we submit to him, he will do it.

Prayer: Dear Lord, as the New Year begins, I pray that I can not only reflect on our journey together, but look forward to the new experiences we will have and submit myself to your will which is perfect. Amen

Faith tip: Make a list of the highlights of the last year and give thanks to God.

Making room

Star of Wonder

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“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”Luke 2:6-7

My sister is very talented in visual decoration. So when her son came home for Christmas, this gave her the opportunity to make room for him in one of the rooms making it nice for him. She loves to do this, because she loves him. This process not only means cleaning out, but also making things special.

Do we make room for Jesus in our hearts? Like the inns in Bethlehem that Christmas night, some hearts put up a no vacancy sign. In that whole city, don’t you think someone could have made room somewhere other than a stable? That was God’s plan though. I wonder if it was a reflection of the rejection Jesus would experience not only through his life on earth but beyond.

Christmas is the perfect time to invite him in and make room for him in our hearts. There may be some things we have to clean up, but he will help with this, and maybe add some special things to make him feel welcome like spend time with him. Making room means giving more of ourself to him. We do this because we love him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are welcome in my heart. I pray that I make room for you and give you the reins of my heart so that you can shine. Amen

Faith tip: No better time than now to prepare for Christmas by inviting Jesus in.

Reconcile in the name of peace

Argue

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What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3)

In this season of Thanksgiving, we remember the things in which we are thankful. As you make your list, either written or mentally, do you find that you are thankful for fights or quarrels? Usually not. What we can be thankful for are the times when reconciliation is experienced. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” He didn’t say blessed are the peacemakers only if they are right. So isn’t it more important to experience peace then to be right?

In a situation of disagreement you are experiencing right now, where you feel you are right and the other person is wrong, are you willing to give up your “rightness” and place it at the foot of the cross for the sake of reconciliation? If not, you may want to ask yourself why it is so important to hold on tightly to being right. Where is the focus…on you or God?

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the opportunities to reconcile. It is difficult to do so at the time, but feels so much better afterwards. It is important to do our part as we follow you. I pray we can be obedient to you in doing so. Amen

Faith Tip: Consider the relationships in your life that need reconciling. Pray for direction and be obedient to what God tells you.