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……….The timing of Jesus’ birth was completely intentional, lovingly chosen, and perfectly designed to bring the greatest blessing to us and the greatest glory to God. And so is the timing of my breakthrough, and yours. What we have walked through this year – good, bad, and indifferent – we can know that it was not a waste of our time, but instead it was filled to the brim with purpose, carefully arranged to prepare us for the next season. Did I allow myself to savor it, or was I looking past it to the next course? I pray that in 2021, we will trust the hands of the Master more than ever……..
……..But as Elizabeth and Jesus both said, there is a greater blessing for us when we believe. We are spared from worry, from despair, and from trying to bring about the promises ourselves. We become co-conspirators with God, brought in on the secrets of His good plans. We can smile as we look toward His promises, despite how circumstances may appear on the surface. Our faith is credited to us as righteousness, both by God and by the people who see and remember it (James 2:23, Hebrews 11). And what a wonder, that the same faith God rewards in us, is actually a gift from Him (Ephesians 2:8, 1 Corinthians 12:9).
I pray that it will be said of you and me one day, like Mary, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”…….
……Would you pray this with me? Lord, don’t let me rush past Your appointments. Don’t let me cherish my crew and my comforts so much that I can’t freely give my time to a stranger You’ve known since You formed them in the womb. Keep me from exalting the idea of preserving my peace over that of living out Your love. Help me to “let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law,” (Romans 13:8, NIV)…….
…….Choosing to let the Word of Christ drown out the clamor of negative thoughts takes another hard-to-come-by ingredient: humility. That encouragement I memorized as a child? Here it is in context: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:6-7, ESV). To let go of my anxieties, I will have to own that I am fearful, that I can’t solve all my own problems, and that my Father knows better than I do what I need. One practical way of humbling myself may look like setting aside a “must-do” item in the morning, and a favorite form of relaxation in the evening, in order to turn to Scripture and worship, and let the voice of Love have the first and the last word in my day………
DEVOTIONAL | SHANNON MILLER “Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers.” – J. Sidlow Baxter There are times when we should speak up, in our families, our communities, or in the...
……The ruler of this world tells us not to let ourselves mourn or rejoice. Because mourning looks like weakness, and rejoicing looks like folly, if you are destined for captivity, slave labor, and destruction. But we are not exiles in Babylon, and we need not obey him. We are citizens of the kingdom of light, invited to come out of the shadows and experience every moment, knowing that our Father is working it all together for our good (Colossians 1:12-14, Philippians 3:20, Romans 8:28)…….
……”Love talked about is easily turned aside, but love demonstrated is irresistible,” said humanitarian Walter Stanley Mooneyham. His words echo a Biblical principle: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth,” (1 John 3:18, NIV). In these times when most of our human interactions are through screens, how can we demonstrate love instead of just talking about it? And in this climate of controversy, how do we strike a loving balance between advocacy, activism, and relationship?…..
….When I consider the kindness that God has shown me, it messes me up even more. No one has ever been as kind to me as Jesus has – choosing me, loving me, and being crushed under the punishment I deserved, while I was still in sin (Romans 5:8). “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding,” (Ephesians 1:6-8, NLT)…..
…….As Timothy Keller put it, “He is tenderness without weakness, strength without harshness, humility without the slightest lack of confidence, unhesitating authority with a complete lack of self-absorption, unbending convictions without the slightest lack of approachability, power without insensitivity, enthusiasm without fanaticism, holiness without Pharisaism, passion without prejudice. Nothing he does falls short. In fact, he’s always surprising you and taking your breath away because he’s so incomparably better than you could imagine for yourself. Why? The surprises you get when you read the life of Jesus are the surprises of perfection.”……
…..The passage states that He was so distressed that He sweated drops of blood. Other recorded instances of this phenomenon were cases of extreme fear, in life-threatening circumstances. The Greek word often translated “agony” in verse 44 can also be translated “terror of death.” Fully God, He knew exactly what He would suffer on the cross for our sake. Fully man, He was not spared from fearing the pain of betrayal, abuse, crucifixion, death, and spiritual separation from His Father as He bore our sins. Soon after His anguish in the garden, Jesus was crowned with thorns (John 19:2) – the symbol of our cares and anxieties, piercing the mind of the Son of God who always preferred to draw closer to us by naming Himself the Son of Man…..