Some things never change. George Müller, who lived almost 200 years ago, found no detail too insignificant to take to the Lord in prayer, believing that Philippians 4:6 is true: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Childlike in trust, Müller took to the throne room of God the need for shoes and breakfasts and playgrounds, for teachers and assistants, for jobs for the oldest boys leaving his care, for healing of illnesses, and the provision of financial resources. Prayer became as natural as breathing for Müller who testified that, in more than seven decades of walking hand in hand with God, he had never found the throne vacant nor the supplies exhausted. Here we are in 2018 and God is still on His throne and the supply-house is still full of blessings.
Sometimes the new leaf we want to turn over fails to become a new life because we give up too soon. We tend to want immediate results, and when we don’t get them when we want them, we go back to our old way of life.
That applies to every part of our life _ physical, mental, emotional, and of course our spiritual life. It affects our relationships, our finances, our business, our church life _ every area of life. For those who desperately want times to get better it may take some time _ maybe four or five or six weeks _ maybe four or five or six months _ maybe years.
The longer it takes the more you will find yourself tempted to think, “Why am I doing this _ things are still the same. I’m just wasting my time. I may as well give up.” That’s what most people do. They say, “I gave it my best shot,” and they quit, and their life stays the same.
But for that select group of people who say, “I refuse to give up.” Eventually their lives get better. Why? Because they locked in on the right strategy _ they persevered _ they stayed with it until payday.
Paul put it like this: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Well, 2018 is here and just like it was in 2017 there is still plenty the church needs to get done. I read this devotion from Harvest Prayer Ministries this morning and decided to share it because it’s a great way to get things done.
“It’s clear from Scripture that prayer makes a difference. When Moses stood on a hillside and prayed for Joshua and the armies of Israel, prayer made the difference between victory and defeat (Exodus 17:8-16). When Elijah prayed on Mount Carmel, prayer made the difference between drought and rain (1 Kings 18:41-45; James 5:17-18). Prayer is a means by which believers are able to accomplish great works for God (John 14:12-14). Prayer is a means by which God’s power is released in this world (James 5:16). Yes! Prayer makes a difference.
“Prayer was the key factor in building the church, too. The first disciples “all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14) as the foundations of the church were laid. Paul later instructed believers, “Devote yourselves to prayer” (Colossians 4:2). And in the face of the devil’s schemes, he pleaded that they “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18).
“Prayer is the foundational factor in bringing the blessing to our world and bringing people to Christ. “I urge, then, first of all,” commands Paul, “that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.” The result is transformation of society—people living “peaceful and quiet lives”—and salvation of the lost—persons “saved and [coming] to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
“Why isn’t payer making a greater difference in North America today? Perhaps it’s because so few of us really understand the importance of prayer. We do not see prayer as the key factor in building the church or changing the world. We are so self-confident and “sufficient in ourselves” that we neglect prayer and attempt to do things for God in our own way and in our own strength. Of course, we’d like God to bless our efforts, so we add a little prayer, seeking his support. But that isn’t God’s way. His way involves earnest, constant, devoted, striving, powerful prayer. That’s what makes a real difference in the world around us.”
So there it is church let’s pray and serve and make 2018 a great year for the Lord.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (NASB95)
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!
God wants us to know him personally. He wants to be Immanuel _ God with us (Matthew 1:23). And in Jesus Christ that is exactly what we have _ God with us. The angel made this incredible announcement: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11) That is why we have, not just another holiday _ it’s Christmas _ a day to celebrate God showing up to be with us.
Several years ago, Scott Wesley Brown sang a song entitled I Wish You Jesus. Here are a few of the words…
I could wish you joy and peace to last your whole life long
I could wish you sunshine or a cheerful little song
Or wish you all the happiness that this life could bring
But I wish you Jesus…
Cos when I wish you Jesus, I wish you everything.
There is so much truth in those words. We won’t find what we need in religion or some self-help book. We won’t find it some new age way of thinking. We won’t find it by sitting in a yoga position or by looking inward with meditation. But, in Jesus we do have, as Peter so aptly put it, “everything we need for life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3) In Jesus our deepest needs are met because in Jesus, we have a personal relationship with the God of the universe. That is why we celebrate Jesus’ birth. That is why I wish you Jesus.
When it comes to characters of the Christmas story we often think of Jesus _ as well we should after all He is the reason for the season. We also think of Mary and shepherds and wise men _ of Herod and Caesar. But there is an oft-forgotten character in the Christmas story. Sometimes even sheep and donkeys seem to get a bigger billing than _ Joseph. Joel Gregory has called Joseph “The Forgotten Man of Christmas,” and I can see why. Joseph is never quoted in Scripture. He is talked to and talked about, but not a single syllable is recorded from his lips.
Sometimes Joseph seems to be an extra among a cast of superstars _ but his role — while subtle — was incredibly significant. How? You ask. What he did spoke so loudly he didn’t need to say anything at all! After reading about Joseph I realized that from all appearances he was a man of impeccable character and unwavering obedience. When confronted with pivotal choices, he made the right decision every time — at least, when it comes to the Christmas story. If I were to write an epitaph for Joseph’s life based upon what I have read may go something like this: “Joseph: A Portrait of Obedience”
Let’s take a look at Matthew 1:20, “After he had considered this (divorcing Mary quietly), an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’ ” … The message is plain and simple, “Joseph, Mary was telling you the truth.”
Can you imagine what Joseph must’ve been thinking about that time:
- Mary was telling the truth… that’s good.
- I’ve got a fiancé that’s pregnant… that’s bad.
- But she’s pregnant by a miracle of the Holy Spirit… that’s good.
- But none of the other people in the village got a vision from God… that’s bad.
- But at least we can still get married… that’s good.
- But we can’t sleep together for nine months… that’s bad.
- But the baby is going to be the Son of God _ the Savior of the world… YIKES, THAT’S INCREDIBLE!!!
So, what did Joseph do? … Matthew 1:24 tells us: “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” What an incredible testimony Joseph was making. What a great lesson for people from that day onward to see and follow and yet so few seem to _ instantaneous, unconditional obedience.
To tell you the truth, we shouldn’t be surprised when a non-Christian culture fails to recognize that Jesus is “reason for the season”. How could they? For those who don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, Christmas has a completely different meaning.
It is about snow and tinsel and toys and chestnuts roasting on an open fire (at least in the northern hemisphere). But I don’t think it’s possible to fully appreciate the significance of the season unless you have a personal relationship with the One for whom the season is named.
That said: This Christmas we have choices. We can turn our attention to all that’s wrong _ we can complain about all those who don’t “get it” _ we can boycott the stores that say “Happy Holidays”_ we can picket the schools that have a Winter Pageant instead of a Christmas Pageant _ we can not give to Toys for Tots.
Or, we can turn our attention to Jesus Christ, the one whom Christmas is about. We can celebrate his birth. We can sing the carols with joy. We can find meaning in the traditions. What I’m saying is that just because a few people get it wrong doesn’t mean that we can’t get it right.
Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I keep hearing how stressed out everyone gets at Christmastime — and I can certainly relate to that — but I also love how we have all the wonderful reminders of God’s wonderful gift of salvation.
We hear songs that proclaim his coming into the world. We see illustrations depicting the manger scene. We read messages posted here and there proclaiming the good news, such as: “Glory to God in highest, peace on earth, and goodwill to men.” Or, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Or “O Come Let Us Adore Him.”
Christmas is the time of year when I’m reminded of the greatest gift of all: that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) That is the true meaning of Christmas.