Unspeakable Joy Devotional

30-November

 

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Shop ‘Til We Drop. Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

A devotional written by J. Liebelt over 10 years ago was a great find as I stumbled to try and find something that God would have me share today. All things being equal, I’m glad to be a Christian, living in America. Many of us, myself included, have been blessed with material prosperity that is common to average Americans. This week marks the official start to another holiday shopping season. Many of us will venture out to local malls, fighting crowds to get the best deals as we work through our Christmas shopping lists. Yet, I am troubled by the notion that somehow our material prosperity is directly related to our relationship with Jesus.

John 10:10 “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Does the abundant life really mean that Jesus came to help us focus on our ability to shop ‘til we drop? I don’t think so. Jesus did come to give us life to the full, but the abundant life He was referring to is spiritual in nature. It’s a life where God infuses us with His Spirit, molds us into the image of Christ and overflows to others who observe and can be influenced and blessed. Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Yes, many of us are blessed in material ways. Yet, we ought not confuse material blessing as a spiritual status symbol. For the Christ-follower, material blessings should always be seen as means to an end-not the end in and of itself. Make no mistake, God expects us to use everything we have for His honor and His glory. Jesus said in Luke 12:48 “But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”

This weekend as you venture out to do holiday shopping, take a moment to thank God for your material blessings. While you are at it, be sure to guard yourself in which you focus on getting more for yourself, as opposed to using your material blessings to serve and bless others.

 

 

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

29-November

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Prepare Him Room. The day after Thanksgiving is the day we traditionally will start to think of the Christmas season. We will purchase our tree today and decorate our home. Every year, the scene is the same: In November, I’m driving somewhere, flipping through radio stations and suddenly, Christmas music is waiting through my speakers.

And, every year, my response is similar. I’m not ready to think about Christmas. It’s too early. So, I switch stations and put it out of my mind. Can you relate to that feeling?

Though the holiday season can be stressful, the four weeks leading up to Christmas Eve, also known as Advent, is a great time to set aside a bit of space each day to ready our hearts for Christmas-the entrance of Christ into the world.

The real Christmas was nothing like the Christmas we’ve come to know, with its traditions, memories, and legends. It was a desperate moment that occurred for a desperate reason. The Word became flesh John 1:14 “And the Word as made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” so that the Word could become sin for us condemned sinners, and die for us that we might be made righteous in him 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” He was born outside a village and he died outside a city. John 1:10 “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.”

As Advent season begins again, call to mind the only detail the Holy Spirit, who inspired Luke’s writing, decided to provide us about the actual birth of Jesus: Mary had to lay him in a manager because there was no room for them in the inn.

It is no less ironic that Jesus can stand on the periphery of our busy Advent activities than it was that he, the Son of David, lay in a manager in a field on the periphery of the city of David.

Therefore, as we plan our Advent season “let every heart prepare him room.” Surely we can find some room somewhere.

Pray and ask God how you can best prepare your heart to celebrate the entrance of His Son into the world. May your heart be captured by the ultimate gift-Jesus-this Advent season.

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

28-November

 

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The Power of a Thankful Heart. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

It is not always easy to give thanks, but this is the very thing we must do in order to see God’s will accomplished in our lives. This is how we move into higher realms of faith for ourselves, for our city, and for our nation.

Thanksgiving has great power to bring joy and break the power of the enemy. Whenever you give thanks to God, despite the most difficult circumstances, the enemy loses a big battle in your life. When you give thanks in the midst of difficulty, you bring pleasure to God’s heart. He is looking for Christians who live in a realm of praise and thanksgiving where the enemy no longer has an ability to hold or manipulate that person. Satan is defeated when we have a thankful heart because thankfulness during difficulty is a sacrifice pleasing to God.

Are you thankful? Are you thankful for your present circumstances? Are you thankful for your salvation, your friendships, and your job? Thankfulness is a key to your life. It is the key that turns your situation around because it changes you, your outlook, and your attitude. There is power in a thankful heart.

1 Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Look at the example of Jesus. He followed the will of His Father to the very end. He obeyed without complaint. In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul says that we should have the same attitude. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Jesus made himself nothing and took on the very nature of a servant. He humbled Himself and became obedient to death. We also are to have the same attitude with a humble and thankful acceptance of God’s will for our lives.

David said in Psalm 116:7, “Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.” Let each of us seek to have an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving, rising to a new level of holiness in our lives.

God smiles when we praise and thank Him continually. Few things feel better than receiving heartfelt praise and appreciation from someone else. God loves it, too…An amazing thing happens when we offer praise and thanksgiving to God. When we give God enjoyment, our own hearts are filled with joy.” Rick Warren

 

 

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

27-November

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If I Were The Devil. James 2:19-20 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

In 1965, Paul Harvey broadcasted “If I Were The Devil.”  Many of his statements were considered ridiculously outlandish at that time in history. Yet, we find ourselves today……

His transcript includes “If I were the devil…If I were the Prince of Darkness, I’d want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I’d have a third of it’s real estate, and four-fifths of its population, but I wouldn’t be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree-Thee. So I’d set about however necessary to take over the United States. I’d subvert the churches first-I’d begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.’

“To the young, I would whisper that ‘The Bible is a myth.’ I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what’s bad is good, and what’s good is ‘square.’ And the old, I would teach to pray, after me, ‘Our Father, which art in Washington…’

“And then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting, so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies and vice versa. I’d pedal narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.

“If I were the devil I’d soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations at war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames. If I were the devil I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions-just let those run wild, until before you knew it, you’d have to have drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.

“Within a decade I’d have prisons overflowing. I’d have judges promoting pornography-soon I could evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, and then from the house of Congress. And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls, and church money. If I were the devil I’d make the symbols of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.

“If I were the devil I’d take from those who have, and give to those wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And what do you bet? I could get whole states to promote gambling as thee way to get rich? I would caution against extremes and hard work, in Patriotism, in more conduct. I would convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun, that what you see on the TV is the way to be. And thus I could undress you in public, and I could lure you into bed with diseases for which there is no cure. In other words, if I were the devil I’d just keep right on doing on what he’s doing. Paul Harvey, good day.”

It is my hope that you will join with me praying daily for a revival in our lives, our churches, our communities and our nations. We must decide to be different, Christ-focused. What offends Him, should offend us. What breaks His heart, should break ours. What He loves, we should love. The world desperately needs Jesus and we know He is the answer to the challenges in our families, our nation and our world. May God send His Holy Spirit to revive each of us first so that we will be effective instruments for Him in this world, our temporary home. Jesus commands each of us to “Go.” Go in His name and the power of the Holy Spirit and change our world. So we must go, and go quickly. The clock of eternity is ticking and the midnight hour is rapidly approaching. Jesus, our King and Lord, is preparing to return and we must make ourselves ready and “go” make disciples in this world we are living.

God is good, All the time.

1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

26-November

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Mary Did You Know? Seems out of place for this week, but I just heard the song and I can’t seem to stop thinking about it. This song dates back to 1984 written by Mark Lowry, inspired by a Christmas program he was working on for church.

The best part of the song might be the audience. Today’s audience knows all about Jesus-or can know about Him by reading the Bible. We know about Him walking on water. We know about Him giving sight to the blind and calming the storm. We know the man He became-the Savior.

But do we act like we know? Mary didn’t fully understand what the future held or how her innocent Son would die for sinful people, but we can look back and read about it. The trouble is…sometimes we forget.

If you look in the book of Luke when Gabriel comes to Mary to tell her that she will carry the son of God, he says this: “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:30-33

We forget how He calmed the fierce storm with His words and, instead, think He can’t handle our problems. We forget He created the world-think about that-and, instead, try to drown Him out. We forget He delivered us by grace and, instead, let guilt and feelings of inadequacy overwhelm us.

We do know who Jesus is. But do our actions show it?

“Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb? The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.”

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

25-November

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The Lord Fights For You. Deuteronomy 20:4 “For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”

Whether we recognize it or not, the truth daily confronts us, we face an enemy here in this life. It’s more than what we can see before us. It’s more than another person who we think has wronged us. It’s more than our own struggles and weaknesses we deal with, or the negative self-talk we sometimes battle.

The enemy is real and fierce. He will stop at nothing to try to bring you defeat and destruction. Maybe you’ve noticed too. Because if you’re a believer who is living like salt and light in a dark world, you won’t go for long without encountering obstacles and attacks he’ll hurl your direction. We can be assured, this enemy hates Truth. So if we’re living by it, standing on it, seeking after it, we will be targeted. God’s words are true, this battle is real, many times it feels intense.

But here’s the powerful hope that keeps us strong: God is greater than whatever we face here in this world, and He fights for us still today!

Focusing here today, putting on His armor, staying alert, and praying, that God will equip believers everywhere to “stand strong.” Press on-courageous and free-never held back by feat or defeat. For God has the final victory over our lives….

Ephesians 6:10-18 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

Remember, your battle today may be more about what is unseen than what you see before you. And when you resist the enemy, God’s word reminds us in James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

You’re never alone. He loves you. He fights for you. He is with you. Romans 8:31 “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”

We don’t ever have to walk in fear. For when we belong to Christ, the enemy never has the final word. We are secure in God’s hands and He tells us to “stand firm.” Whether in life, or in death, we may always be found standing firm for the cause of Christ. (D McDaniel)

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

24-November

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Breaking Habits. Jeremiah 13:23 “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”

Habits are the things we do repeatedly, the patterns that shape our lives, and the actions we take in moments of uncertainty. Habits can be as minor as television programs we consistently watch, or as major as addictions. And they can be hard to break.

A recent study demonstrated how people can become prisoners of their habits. A series of experiments proved that “when people are stressed out and tired, they return to their fundamental routines-whether those are good or bad.”

Participants in the study consistently fell back onto both desirable and undesirable habits such as eating the same foods at the same times. When facing stressful conditions, people consistently reacted the same way, even when they wanted to change.

Researchers found practical ways to help break undesirable habits. They encouraged establishing new habits and changing the environment to remove the “visual trigger” that stimulated habitual behavior. It also can be helpful to “plan ahead,” anticipating problems that might occur and then doing whatever necessary to “disrupt established patterns,” changing the sequence of actions.

Many Believers struggle to overcome undesirable habits. As Jeremiah described, changing the patterns that are ingrained in our lives can be hard to do, and as Jesus described, a “tree is known by its fruit” Matthew 12:33.

But we can call on God when we need to break bad habits, or start good ones. This is done when we commit our challenges and problems to Him, filling our minds with His Word and obeying His principles.

Ask God to help you establish Godly habits in your life. Be filled with the Spirit, draw on His power, and follow His leading. Submit every relationship and activity to Him.

Father, help me recognize any bad habits I have formed. Help me to break free of any bondage. I surrender my life to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.