Zechariah 1:1-21 As we come nearer to the celebration of Jesus' birth, our thoughts go back to that still, quiet night in Bethlehem when the shepherds were startled by a heavenly host that sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will to men." I had the opportunity to stay in a kibbutz in Bethlehem that overlooked the shepherds' fields. As I sat quietly on the balcony I could hear in the distance the tinkling of the bells on the shepherds' staffs as the shepherds led their sheep to a place of rest for the evening. It was a star-filled night very much like the one when heaven came down and glory filled our hearts.
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Psalm 139:1-24 This psalm declares clearly how much God is thinking about us. We have an expression in the Christian community we use when we are concerned about someone. We say, "You have really been on my heart." We are on God's heart every day of our lives. Listen quietly and You can hear Him say, "Today, My child, you are on My heart, and I am praying for you." This psalm says, "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with You" (vv. 17-18).
Psalm 138:1-8 Through the years I have used this scripture many times as different situations and relationships became a concern to me. It is so comforting to know that the Lord knows everything that concerns us. He knows every person that we are concerned about. It is so exciting to realize that He not only knows all my concerns, but His plan is to perfect everything that concerns me. Listen to these comforting words again "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands" (vv. 7-8, KJV).
Habakkuk 1:1-3:19 The Bible tells us that without a vision the people will perish. It is so important to have a vision or several visions throughout our lifetime. God calls us to be visionaries. He created the imagination to be used for His glory. Satan, however, ever since the Fall seeks to use our imaginations for his dirty work. Satan has the power to plant images in our minds that will tempt us to sin. We see this clearly when so many today are involved in pornography. When we set our eyes on anything that is not holy, good, pure, virtuous and lovely, those images we receive will be played over and over again in our minds. The spiritual battlefield is our minds and we must use the mighty weapons of God (His Word, the blood of Jesus, prayer and the name of Jesus) to pull down those vain imaginations that Satan would use to destroy us. God desires our minds to be stayed upon Him, and when they are, we will have perfect peace. The visions and images God wants us to have are of Him and His plans for our lives.
Psalm 135:1-21 When we praise the Lord with singing, it is pleasant to Him, and He will make our days pleasant if we will sing throughout every day. David spent most of his days singing songs of praise. He was a psalmist. We do not have to be an expert as David with his song writing, but we can sing in the Spirit and sing some of David's psalms all the day long. In fact, this is the way to stay filled with the Spirit. Paul exhorts us in Ephesians to sing spiritual songs, psalms and hymns and to always make melody in our hearts. He shares that this is the secret to staying filled with the Spirit. It is hard to fulfill the lusts of our own carnal nature when we are constantly making melody in our hearts unto the Lord.
The fear of the Lord is not being scared of God. How can we have intimacy with someone we are scared of? God's greatest passion is to have close fellowship with us.
Micah 1:1-4:13 The Bible is clear about what causes war. James tells us that wars exist because of our own lusts. I am so thankful that no one in my immediate family ever had to fight in a war, because "war is hell." I heard the testimony of a Christian who was shot down in Vietnam and held prisoner for over a year. His testimony was inspiring, but just think of a day when there will be no more testimonies like his. One day there will be no more war. Micah looks forward to that day when he says, "But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Mic. 4:1-3, KJV).
Psalm 133:1-3 One of God's greatest desires is that we dwell together in unity. One of Satan's greatest desires is that we would be divided. God hates it when men come against each other with accusations and strife.
Proverbs 29:24-25 When I first married, I was so bound by the fear of what others thought of me. I wondered if my mother thought I was a good mother. Did my husband think I was a good wife? Did my neighbors think I was a good neighbor? I remember my next door neighbor coming to my home and telling me how she cleaned her oven and range every day. From that day forward I made sure my oven and range were spotless just in case "Mrs. Clean" dropped by uninvited. Before I was delivered from the fear of man, I never really listened to what people were saying. I was too busy thinking about what I would say to them when they finished talking.
Revelation 3:7-22 Jesus holds the keys of David that can open the doors that no man can shut, and He also can shut the doors that no man can open. Often I have prayed for Jesus to go ahead of me and open the doors no man can shut and to close the doors no man can open. Jesus holds the keys to our future, and we need to release our future to Him. I am praying for the employment of one of my friends now, and I am praying that Jesus will use these powerful keys to open or close doors for her future job.
Psalm 130:1-8 Where would we be if God marked our iniquities? We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. God's plan has always been to redeem us, not condemn us. Redemption is extended to us through Jesus, and the possibility of having our sins, transgressions and iniquities all forgiven is offered to all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 29:19-20 I remember my mother's instructions, "Put your mind in gear before you start the motor of your mouth." I've tried to follow that advice all my life, but sometimes I forget. When I do, I usually find that what I say in haste hurts others. Someone told me to roll my tongue around in my mouth twenty times before I speak. That also is good advice.
Psalm 128:1-6 What a blessing it is to be grandparents. This psalm promises the children of Israel that they will see their children's children. "Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table" (v. 3, KJV). "Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel" (v. 6, KJV).
All of us have three images: projected image, perceived image, and actual image. Your projected image is the way you desire others to see you. Your perceived image is how others see you. Your actual image is who you really are.
Psalm 127:1-5 The fruit of my forty-plus years of marriage has been three marvelous sons with their beautiful wives and children. God has promised us at least ten grandchildren before Jesus returns, and I kid people a lot by telling them, "Never mind all the signs of the times mentioned in the Bible that usher the return of our Lord. Just know that when the tenth grandchild is born, Jesus is on the way." God's heart is concerned with people, and He always rejoices when births occur (physical births of new babies and spiritual births of new babes in Christ). God loves to add to His family because He is a family God. This psalm speaks of children as the heritage of the Lord and the Lord's reward. Listen to these words: "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with their enemies in the gate" (vv. 3-5).
3 John 1:1-14 Not too long ago there was a lot of prosperity teaching. One of the examples given to try to prove God wanted to bless our giving was the promise of the hundredfold return for the gifts we give to God. Some of these evangelists preaching such a return on gifts were expecting the gifts of money to be given to them. They wanted the hundredfold return, and often were manipulating people by putting guilt trips on them to give monies to their ministry. These evangelists never told the whole truth about the hundredfold return. We are only promised the hundredfold return if we forsake certain things. Listen to what the Bible actually says about the hundredfold return. "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life" (Mark 10:29-30, KJV).
Psalm 125:1-5 We have led many tours to Israel, and sometimes people are hesitant to go because they are fearful of terrorists and possible war in Israel. When they express those fears, Tom and I always share that we feel safer walking the streets of Jerusalem than we do walking the streets of Atlanta. There is a sense of God's peace and presence in Israel that supersedes the threat of war and terrorism.
1 John 5:1-21 Few know the power God has given them through Jesus Christ to confess and remit the sins of others. This is the ministry of reconciliation. God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to Himself. The possibility of the whole world being reconciled to God was extended on the cross when Jesus died not only for your sin, but also for the sins of the whole world. When Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do," Jesus was entering into the ministry of reconciliation.
1 John 4:1-21 The whole counsel of God's Word exhorts us not to judge others. However, we can give the love test to others. The Bible says you shall know them by their fruits. The fruit of the Spirit is love. John talks about the love test. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us" (vv. 11-12).
1 John 3:7-24 During my lifetime, there was a movement that many coined as "name it and claim it." Many preachers and teachers were saying you could have anything you asked God for—all you had to do was believe and claim it by faith. It is true that even Jesus says whatever you pray about, believe that you have it and you will receive it. However, one must read this promise in context. Jesus also shares that for this to come to pass in our lives, we must fulfill a condition. That condition is to abide in Him and allow His love and Word to abide in us. Jesus tells us we must keep his commandments. He says, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you-.-.-.- This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:7, 12-13, KJV).
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