December 1 – Preparedness

“And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” Luke 12:47

The First Sunday of Advent (usually falling on the last Sunday in November) hails the beginning of the Christian Church calendar. “Advent” means “preparation for the celebration of Christmas” and lasts four weeks. It carries with it reminders of the birth of Christ, His coming into individual lives, and His soon second coming. This time of preparation is to be exciting, interesting, valued, and shared.

Some churches or families incorporate an Advent wreath to help them prepare for the Christ Child’s coming. The circle represents eternity; the evergreen symbolizes life even in winter; and the large white candle in the center, from which the other four are lit, represents Jesus as the Light of the world. The color of Advent is purple. It denotes sorrow for sin and loyalty to the King of kings. So the first purple candle is lit the first week, signifying the prophetic words concerning Christ’s birth.

As we enter the last month of the year, join in this spirit of preparation. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.” (I Thessalonians 4:3a) Prepare your heart to worship the Christ of Christmas in a deeper, more devoted way than ever before.

PRAY: “Father of holiness, prepare my heart to seek You and to know You in a more personal way. I want to be found ready when Christ returns.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.”
 

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November 30 – Prepared Soil

“And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow.” Matthew 13:3

A farmer has much to do to prepare his land for planting. He has to plow and disk and drag the field with his tractor and heavy equipment. Perhaps you have seen a stone boat covered with small and large boulders that were turned up by the plow and had to be hand-removed before the seed could be sown, or who has not traveled the countryside at one time or another and smelled the pungent odor of manure being spread on the soil as fertilizer?  Only after all these preparations can the farmer use his planter which drops and then covers up the seed so that it can grow. After it springs up, cultivation is necessary to keep the weeds down. A harvest can now be expected at maturation of the plant.

In this parable, Jesus is drawing a spiritual parallel. When the seed of faith is sown on stony, thorny, unprepared soil, its chances of survival are low. The heart (soil) of a new believer must be cultivated through your love, compassion, and forgiveness. Jesus never said to make “short-order converts,” but He spoke of making “disciples.” Good decisions are well-thought-out ones. (See Matthew 28:19, NIV.) A disciple is taught to grow and reproduce.  All healthy plants will grow and reproduce seed to grow more plants.

PRAY: “Father, prepare the soil of my heart so that I might hear Your voice and receive Your instructions.   Let my love and friendship cultivate hearts of others to receive Your gift of salvation.   In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

November 29 – Sufficiency of God

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”  II Corinthians 3:5

Have you ever felt like it was just about impossible to live up to the high standards of Christ? This is how the disciples must have felt when Jesus was putting the young rich ruler through the paces in Matthew 19:16-26.

The man declared that he had kept all the commandments from his youth to the present, but Jesus asked him to go a step further. Sell all that he had and give it to help the poor. The man could not do it and went away in sorrow.

When the disciples observed this, they were amazed and asked, “Who then can be saved?” (Verse 25) Jesus answered with these powerful words, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. “ (Verse 26)

Having “sufficient” means having “ENOUGH.” You will never have enough without God. You will never feel rich enough, smart enough, powerful enough, or spiritual enough without putting God on center stage. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. . . .“ (II Peter 1:3a NIV) “And ye are complete in him… “(Colossians 2:lOa) MARVELOUS!

PRAY: “Father God, Head of my home and Light of my path, thank You for Your sufficiency in my life.   I rest in Your completeness .  With You, I have enough.  Amen.”

November 28 – Beware the Leaven

“…he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Luke 12:lb

Jesus was always the hardest on the religious people of His day. The Pharisees tried so hard to look good on the OUTSIDE, but Jesus knew their hearts. “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27, NIV)

Hypocrisy is rooted in pride. It tries to make you look good at the expense of others. It leads to a critical spirit, critical of everyone except yourself. It focuses on the external and superficial because it has much to hide.

Jesus said that hypocrisy grows and spreads in a man like leaven or yeast does in the making of bread. The Apostle Paul continued that thought when he wrote that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,” (I Corinthians 5:6) A little unaddressed sin in a man will eventually corrupt the whole man.

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees today by speaking Li of others, and do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. (See Romans 12:3.) Remember, you are only righteous through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not sufficient in yourself. (See II Corinthians 3:5)

PRAY: “Gracious, loving Father, forgive me for the sin of hypocrisy. Let me see my brother through Your loving eyes of compassion.  My sufficiency is in You alone.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

November 27 – Danger of Unthankfulness

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:21 (NIV)

The price of unthankfulness is high! Whenever a man refuses to give glory to God, he enters the fatal delusion of believing that he can live life without God’s help.

Verse 22 says, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools . . .“ and Verse 25 reads, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator. . . .“ Finally, verse 28 shows that God gave them over to a “reprobate,” or “depraved,” mind, virtually incapable of doing good.

America, in all her splendor, faces the imminent danger of unthankfulness. She takes the blessing of God for granted without humbly thanking and worshipping Him. The delusion of materialism and humanism has people worshipping “created things rather than the Creator” of all things.

You can repent of this sin today by coming into a right relationship with God. As John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease. “(John 3:30) Humble yourself before God today and be thankful.

PRAY: “Gracious Father, I humble myself before Your mighty presence and recognize You as the Creator of all things.   I will worship and serve You alone as my Lord and Savior.  Keep me free of delusions.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

November 26 – A Thankful Heart

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Psalm 100:4

A thankful heart is very pleasing to God. I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

In EVERYTHING give thanks! That is not an easy command to live up to in this world of daily disappointment and uncertainty. Yet, look at it from God’s viewpoint. It is His will that you trust Him in ALL THINGS and ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.

Romans 8:28 makes this declaration, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

As your LOVE for God grows, so does your interest in HIS WILL and HIS PURPOSE. Your trust in Him will increase in the same proportion as your willingness to rest in His divine plan for your life. . . even above your own will and desires.

Be thankful to God today, knowing that HE is working in the midst of all your circumstances so that they will work out for your GOOD!

PRAY: “Loving Father, I thank You for caring enough to involve yourself in my every situation Help me to rest in the assurance that You are working everything for my good. In Jesus’ glorious Name, I pray. Amen.”

November 25 – Thanksgiving

“Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”  Psalm 50: 14-15

What is Thanksgiving? A fall harvest festival set aside for celebrating and thanking God for plentiful crops. It was first decreed by Massachusetts Colony Governor Bradford in 1623. On November 25, 1789, President George Washington issued a general proclamation for a day of thanksgiving, but there was no regular Thanksgiving Day until President Lincoln, in 1863, set aside the last Thursday in November as a national holiday to give “praise to our beneficent Father.”

Thank God that we have a nation that still recognizes the value of a national day of thanksgiving. It is one reason why America is blessed of God. Scripture promises specific blessings in return for thanksgiving:

1) Deliverance comes (Psalm 50:14-15)

2) Prayers are answered (Philippians 4:6-7)

3) Opens the door to worship (Psalm 100:4)

4) Offers additional blessings (Luke 17:15-19)

Jonah prayed with “a song of thanksgiving, and was delivered from the belly of a great fish. (See Jonah 2:9a, NIV.) Your deliverance will also come on the wings of thanksgiving. Make it your priority today!

PRAY: “O Lord, You have given me so much. Grant me one thing more. . . a heart of thanksgiving I love You, I bless You, I praise You, I honor You, I give You glory today. In Jesus’ wonderful Name, I pray. Amen.”