This scripture is a great reminder that contentment or fulfillment comes from Jesus and our relationship with him. When our relationship is poor or not where it should be, we will thirst for worldly items or seek comfort in places we shouldn’t. We may not even realize that is what we are doing since the “culture” around us reinforces that we shouldn’t be content. God calls us though to find contentment in Him and rely on Him for our needs.
1. What worldly item or comfort are you seeking?
2. Thinking about the item identified above, what can you do differently in order to find contentment?
Challenge: Based on the insight you had above, take the step to find contentment in God.
Jesus is our redeemer. The Father has planned redemption and the Son has accomplished this redemption. This is all done outside of what we have done or deserve. It is the Spirit's amazing role to apply the Father's plan and the Son's accomplishment of that plan to our hearts. He opens our eyes and makes us beneficiaries of all that the Father has planned and all that Christ has done for us.
1. Is the Spirit alive in you?
2. What do you need to do if you are not sure?
Challenge: Those who have accepted Christ have the Spirit in them. Take time to listen to the Spirit. Read God's Word daily and watch the Spirit reveal Himself to you.
God gives us the power, through His Spirit, to be witnesses for Him. The Spirit gives us the fruits of the Spirit. These fruits give us the ability to love those who are hardest to love. Love is the greatest evidence that Christ is in you and that you have His power in you.
1. How are you using the Power in you?
2. Which, if not all, of the Fruits of the Spirit do you need to develop?
Challenge: Would those who know you best say that the Spirit lives in you? Work on developing the Fruits of the Spirit and pray for the opportunities and the strength to display them.
The Holy Spirit lives in us. Without this indwelling, we would be totally immersed in our worldly culture and spiritually dead. The constant prompting of the Spirit reminds us that our bodies are the dwelling place of the Spirit. We should treat our bodies in a manner worthy of the temple of God Almighty.
1. Do you believe that God "lives" in you?
2. What does that reality look like in terms of how you treat your body?
Challenge: If God lives in you in the form of the Holy Spirit, it should spark your desire to keep His temple holy. If you are convicted to be the best "Temple of God" that you can be, pray for the will to make the necessary changes.
The Holy Spirit gives us new life in Jesus. The Spirit is the one who does the work of making you a born again being by His supernatural work. Paul tells us that nothing we have done saves us, but it is the work of the Spirit that prods us into belief that Jesus paid the price for us. By receiving the Cross, through repentance and by the renewing of the Spirit, we are saved. It is God's gift to us.
1. Have you been born again?
2. How do you know?
Challenge: There is no rebirth without change. How have you changed since your acceptance of Christ? Are you still arrogant, sarcastic, and self-centered? God calls us, through His Spirit, to a different life. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Hebrews 12:14.)
Jesus said that the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin. The Spirit uses a pastor's sermon, a mother's prayer, a tragic experience, along with countless other methods to convict us of sin and our need to turn our lives over to Jesus. Without this prodding, we would have no way of knowing that we are sinners and need the saving grace and work of Jesus.
1. What methods has the Spirit used to convict you of sin?
2. Do you feel His nudging to move you towards repentance?
Challenge: Take notice of these feelings. Pray for the Holy Spirit to speak clearly to you and act on His leading.
This is one of the most famous passages in Isaiah, and is even sung in Handel’s masterpiece. If you haven’t read this glorious piece of scripture in awhile, this would be a great opportunity to do so, and to think of the meaning, the true meaning, of the “reason for the season” that we say to each other.
1. In reading Isaiah 9:6, do we reflect upon the fact of His presence being just as powerful now as it was when Isaiah first proclaimed this message from God to Israel?
2. Do we reflect upon the miracle – the true miracle – that was given unto us by God Himself in order to make right that which was made wrong between us and God, all the way back in the Garden of Eden?
Challenge: Pray, sing (to Handel’s Messiah, if you wish), and delight in this savior, who was at once all God and all man. He came to us in lowly circumstances over 2,000 years ago, just to love us and rescue us. That is the true meaning of Christianity, and we should remember it in all seasons. Amen.
What is our relationship with God Himself? If we obey Him, that is wise. But, how do we know that He understands the troubles of our lives? The answer is, of course, that He was one of us, as well.
1. Do we remember His humanity?
2. Do we remember that He had his own troubles, while living as a human among us?
Challenge: During this Christmas season, let’s remember that we are in no way forgotten by our Lord and Savior, since He, Himself, had to experience the same very human thoughts and feelings that we, ourselves, feel every day. He is with us, always, and He truly understands what we’re going through, since He went through the same, as well.
When we think of the Messiah, we oftentimes forget His totality. He was born, yes, in humble circumstances. However, we should read John 1:1 to remember His true “origin story.” This challenges us to remember Him in His fullness, and prior to the memories of Him in our familiar Christmas story thoughts.
1. In thinking about our Lord, even during Christmas, do we remember His real beginnings, as outlined in John 1:1?
2. When we do read of that beginning, do we recall that awesome power made manifest in our own lives?
Challenge: It is quite challenging to remember the true “origin story” of our Lord and Savior, particularly given the many nativity scenes that we see, and display, every Christmas season. But, let us try and remember His real beginning, with all of the implications therein, and what that means to us.
We know the “Christmas story” so well, we could recite it easily to others. We could sing the songs that we first learned as children. But, it is worth remembering the humble beginnings, as encapsulated in Luke 2:7, of the “greatest story ever told.”
1. Have you read Luke 2:7 lately?
2. What do you imagine might have been your reaction if you had personally witnessed the scene as depicted in the verse above? What might be your reaction now?
Challenge: It’s often good for us to imagine ourselves, and gauge our reactions, as to how we might have witnessed a historical event. Take time to think, and then pray on, the miracle that was shown as depicted by Luke 2:7. As you go through this Christmas season, pay attention to your own sense of wonder and awe as if you were there also.
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