Christmas is certainly one of the most celebrated holidays throughout the whole world. Today, more than ever, I believe it is important that we, the church, vigilantly declare the true meaning and purpose of our celebration. It is the birth of the child spoken of in Isaiah 9:6 that we are remembering and observing.
[quote style=”boxed”]For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:and the government shall be upon his shoulder:and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)[/quote]
Jesus is that Son given to every man, woman, boy and girl throughout the whole world.
Have you ever forgotten to write a tag on a Christmas gift? Have you picked up a gift from under the tree and wondered who it was for? We don’t have to wonder who Jesus was given to or why God gave us this special gift. God wrapped His gift, Jesus, and placed him in a manger. The tag on His gift said “To: (Your Name Here).”
Try to imagine God looking through time and sending His Son just for you. How amazing is that? Everything that Jesus is, was, and ever will be along with everything that Jesus did, does, and ever will do was sent directly, specifically, and individually for you. You and I are the reason for God sending His gift! You and I are that important to God.
It’s as if there was only one person on the planet earth, you, and Jesus was sent just for you. To heal you, to save you, to bless and prosper you. Wow, that is something worth celebrating!
Let’s make sure that we celebrate Jesus as the best gift we’ll receive this year. Let’s recognize the supreme sacrifice of love that God the Father sent: Jesus, the Son, as His gift to this world.
Make sure that Jesus is the focus of your Christmas.
[quote style=”boxed”]Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7[/quote]
Wisdom is important to God and it should be important to us. In fact, the Bible calls wisdom the principal or primary thing. Why is it so important? Because wise people do things that promote a godly, healthy, fulfilling lifestyle.
Here are seven things that wise people do:
1. A Wise Person Listens To Authority
Those who walk in wisdom obey their parents and welcome direction/orders from those in charge. (Prov. 1:5; 23:15, 23:24, 10:8)
2. A Wise Person Seeks To Increase In Knowledge
Knowledge is never gained by simply wishing for it. Wise people search for ways to acquire knowledge. (Prov. 18:15; 1:5; 12:15; 9:9; 10:14; 15:2,7)
3. A Wise Person Is Surrounded By Wise Company
The old saying goes: “You are who you associate with!” Those who walk in wisdom choose their friends wisely. (Prov. 13:20; 6:6; 9:8; 15:31)
4. A Wise Person Successfully Leads Others
Wise people make good leaders and problem solvers, not problem makers. (Prov. 11:29; 21:22)
5. A Wise Person Plans For The Future
When you’re full of wisdom, you prepare for your future, build your househould and prosper in business. (Prov. 24:5; 14:1; 10:5)
6. A Wise Person Has Discernment
Wise people watch what they say, avoid contention, depart from evil and live sober lives. (Prov. 10:10; 17:28; 29:11; 29:8; 28:7; 14:16; 20:1)
7. A Wise Person Reaches The Lost
The most rewarding benefit of living a life of wisdom is being effective in winning souls! (Prov. 11:30)
Are you doing these things listed above? If you want to walk in wisdom, ask and you shall receive:
[quote style=”boxed”]My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:2-8[/quote]
[quote style=”boxed”]And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. EPHESIANS 5:18-19[/quote]
Every christian should maintain a constant state of drinking. According to Paul, we are to continue consuming and drinking. Of course, I’m not talking about beer, wine, or hard liquor. No, I’m talking about the Holy Ghost! You and I are to be filled with the Holy Ghost and we are to stay full to the overflow.
The Greek rendering of what Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:18 is “be being filled.” In other words, we are to stay at it, consistently drinking of the Spirit. We are to continue in a constant experience with the Holy Spirit.
Paul tells us to “be NOT drunk with wine, wherein is excess; BUT…” There is both a comparison statement and a contrasting statement made here. “But” is a conjunctive word used to suggest that there is a state of drunkenness we can have that doesn’t come from wine. In contrast to alcohol, we have the Holy Ghost. You see, it’s ok to be drunk, BUT, you and I should be drunk with the Holy Ghost!
[Tweet “Being drunk with the Spirit will always be more fulfilling than anything the World can give us!”]
DRUNK PEOPLE ACT OUT
Drunk people are care-free. Drunk people are relaxed and happy. We are to be drunk (care-free, relaxed and happy) from being filled with the Holy Spirit!
When we are drunk on the Holy Ghost, Paul tells us there is no “excess,” which translates to debauchery or unsavedness (referencing CWSB & Strong’s). So, drinking is totally acceptable if it’s the Holy Ghost we’re drinking.
BENEFITS OF DRINKING
When you are a Holy Ghost FILLED and FULL person, Paul says that you will be “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Here, he shows us the characteristics that will show up in the lives of Holy Ghost drinkers. It’s a benefit to you and the Lord when you fill yourself up with the Holy Spirit!
Let me sum all of this up: It’s OK to drink. Born again, believing Christians need to get drunk. HOWEVER, we aren’t drinking the carnal, natural wine of the world. We are drinking of the supernatural, heavenly, Holy Ghost wine. So, get drunk and be constantly filled with the Spirit!
[quote style=”boxed”]He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 91:1-2[/quote]
The words of Psalm 91 are some of the most beautiful words in all of the Bible. The first and second verses describe a personal position with God. Verse one tells us that there is nearness to God where we can abide securely from assaults. It is wonderful to know that we can trust in God for our complete and total well-being!
There are promises that follow these two verses and Psalm 91:2 sets a condition that must be met so that those promises can be ours. This is what I will say:
1. I will say He is my refuge.
When I call God my refuge, I am saying that God is my safe place and a shelter for me. God is the safe place from all of my trouble. My God is the shelter from sorrow & despair.
2. I will say He is my fortress.
God is a place of my defense. He defends me from every attack that comes. I can trust in God to defend me against the attacks of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
3. I will say He is my God.
It is important for me to realize that my access to God, and everything He is, is personal: He is MY God. What a wonderful thing it is to be able to say that He is my refuge. It’s even better to add that He is also my fortress. However, its beyond amazing to be able to say He is my God!
For you and I to take advantage of the full benefits of Psalm 91, we need to first take our position in the secret place, the shadow, of The Most High and declare: He is my refuge, He is my fortress, He is my God, I trust Him!
In your personal time with the Lord today, read Psalm 91.
[quote style=”boxed”]Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. Ephesians 5:1-2[/quote]
We’re Supposed To Be Imitators of God
Did you know that God not only wants us to follow Him, but to imitate Him? The word “followers” in Ephesians 5:1-2 literally translates to “imitators” from the Greek word mimetes (mim-ay-tace). Imitation means copying, emulating, or reproducing something. For us to imitate God, we must set out to know God intimately and to discover how to become more like Him.
Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, knew that this would require guidance and help. He was called by God to instruct the church in how to follow God. His instructions were simple:
[quote style=”boxed”]Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1[/quote]
Paul reveals something very important in this verse:
The church needs men that are set apart by God to set an example for us to follow! We all need a man of God in our lives that’s helping us follow Christ. There’s nothing wrong with following a man who’s following God!
I need a pastor. You need a pastor. The Bible shows us that when we follow men of God who are helping us follow Christ, we have an example to follow and support in times of need.
2. It Gives Us An Example
[quote style=”boxed”]Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. Philippians 3:17[/quote]
Although the Bible gives clear instruction on many topics, it’s important that we have an earthly example to follow. Pastors provide an example of how to apply biblical principles to our daily lives.
3. It Provides Support
[quote style=”boxed”]That you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:12[/quote]
There are times when we become tired, lazy or distracted. When we’re following a pastor, and they’re leading us, they can help support us in a time of need. They’ll remind us of scripture, encourage our faith and help pull us out of a rut when we’re stuck!
Throughout the scriptures, we read of times when Paul (and other men of God) provided support to the church. The reason they were able to do so is because the people receiving instruction were submitted to following a man of God! Paul wasn’t just writing a letter for good practice, he was giving life-support to people who needed his wisdom. The same thing is available to us today when we find a God-ordained man in our lives to follow!
Find Someone To Follow
God will help connect you with a pastor who you can follow! Most of those who read this are already connected with a man of God who’s been set apart to lead people into a deeper relationship with Christ. It’s up to us to submit to a man of God and receive the instruction, support and love from someone who wants to see us succeed!
What do we do when we are faced with adversity, circumstances, and challenges?
I have come to realize that not everything goes according to our expectations. It is certain that we will face some very trying and difficult times throughout the course of our life. There will be adversities and misunderstandings.
In these hard times, how do we overcome & how do we walk in victory?
I heard a story about a little boy with dreams of becoming a great baseball player. One day, he decided to go outside and practice. He held the baseball in one hand, the bat in the other, then threw the ball into the air. Trying to hit the ball as far as he could, he took a great swing but the ball just fell to the ground without even touching the bat. Not to be denied, he tried again. As he was about to throw the ball in the air, he grew more determined and wanted to hit the ball out of the park. However, the results were the same; the ball just fell to the ground. But, as any good ballplayer knows, you have three strikes before you are out. He concentrated even more, threw the ball in the air and gave the mightiest swing he had ever attempted! As the ball fell to the ground, tears began to swell in his eyes. Then, all of a sudden, a great smile appeared and he said, “What a pitcher!”
I believe that what we face is not as important as how we face it.
[Tweet “Problems don’t make us better. Overcoming problems, with God’s help, will make us better.”]
Many Christians have been taught to focus on problems instead of solutions. It is our response to the adversity and controversy that ultimately determines a victorious outcome. We need to realize that whatever we are going through right now, God designed the outcome to be good for those who love Him. No matter how bad it looks, no matter what has been said about us and no matter the rejection we’ve faced, God has already mapped out the path to a good result.
[quote style=”boxed”]Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”[/quote]
Here is the question: Do you know that ALL THINGS are working together for your GOOD?
When we face adversity, circumstances, and challenges of any kind, we must face it with the confidence & knowledge that what we are facing will ultimately lead to something good. God will turn it into a benefit. We will come out on the good end of things!
Today, make the choice to see your situation the way that God sees it: Turned to good!
People ask me regularly, “Pastor, how long do I have to wait before I will see the answer to my faith?” My answer is always the same: “As long as it takes!”
SEEING VS. BELIEVING
Too often, faith fails to work because we have unintentionally placed limits on our faith. We are believing for things to come to pass, but when we don’t see anything, we become deflated and give up. In this case, what we see (or don’t see) has determined our level of faith.
For us to have the fulfillment of our faith, we are going to have to move past seeing is believing.
Real faith doesn’t need physical evidence to believe. If our faith is based in seeing something, then our faith hasn’t fully matured and we have unintentionally placed a limit on our faith.
I remember a story about a young man who was engaged to be married to a young lady. Apparently, he was having challenges with the girl’s mother. After much turmoil, the young man went to see a specialist on marriage and the family. After expressing all of the issues, the doctor asked the young man a question, “Do you think that this girl’s mother can break you up?” The young man said, “Yes!” The doctor responded, “Then let her. If she can break you up now, she will be able to break you up later.”
The same can be said about seeing is believing. A faith that is based only on sight has limits. Those limits will eventually break up our faith. When we are in true faith, there are no time limits and no adversities of any kind that can change what we believe.
Don’t confess your limits. One thing that will never work is exposing our limitations to the devil.
We need to understand that the devil’s plan is to cause us to change what we believe. If the devil can change what we believe then he can change our destiny. The devil wants to steal and choke out the Word that we are standing on! He knows that you and I are only as high as the faith we’re standing on and only as strong as the Word in our hearts. So, the devil will send problems and adversities in an effort to disconnect us from our faith and to steal the Word of God from us.
HOW DO WE OVERCOME?
It’s easy! Continue filling up with God’s Word. The Bible says, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) Therefore, we must hear the Word of God continually, to the point that we are not influenced by what we see. The Word of God must become the evidence and substance of what we believe. When we’re this full of His Word, it doesn’t matter how long it takes and whether or not we see anything at all. We believe no matter what.
Let’s remember that it’s not seeing is believing – but believing is seeing.
Many times in life we find ourselves up against overwhelming odds. In 2 Chronicles 20 we see Jehoshaphat and the children of Israel in just that position. As we look at this story, we can see several things that they did to overcome. I believe that if you and I will use these simple principles, we too will walk in victory and blessings.
1. Set yourself, seek God and ask for help.
The Bible says that Jehoshaphat set himself to seek the Lord and he proclaimed a fast in all Judah. We need to follow Jehoshaphat’s example and do likewise.
2. Recognize the greatness of God, remind Him of His Word, and be humble before Him.
Jehoshaphat proclaimed the greatness of God and acknowledged humbly that God was his source.
3. Turn the problem over to God.
Jehoshaphat put his total trust in God. When we are powerless and don’t know what to do, we must turn our eyes toward God as Jehoshaphat did.
4. Get God’s Word on the situation.
Jehoshaphat received a word from God. In the midst of our situation, we also need to Hear from heaven and listen to what God says! After calling on God we must be aware that He will speak. His words have power and His words will give us the faith we need to stand in the face of defeat.
5. Begin To Praise and Worship God for the answer.
Jehoshaphat followed the instruction of the Lord, consulted with the people and appointed singers to sing praises to the Lord as they went out before the army. Because of this, they never even had to fight the battle! God fought for them!
You and I must realize that the battle is not ours. It’s the Lord’s.
As they came upon the battlefield, they saw all of the enemy was defeated and lying there on the ground was bountiful blessing. They named the field of battle “the Valley of Beracah” which means “blessing”. It’s hard to believe that we can find blessing in the midst of a valley, but I assure you that God has it all worked out. When we follow the same steps as Jehoshaphat, the end of our challenge will be exactly the same. Not only will we walk in a victory that God has already won, but we will also enjoy the spoils that are left in the wake.
God has a blessing waiting for you at the end of your challenge. Be sure to take the time to read 2 Chronicles 20 you’ll be blessed!
Isaiah 53:4-5 is a power-packed verse on the subject of healing!
[quote style=”boxed”]Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. – Isaiah 53:4-5[/quote]
WHAT DOES THIS SCRIPTURE MEAN?
In this scripture, the word “borne” comes from the Hebrew word “nasa.”
[quote style=”boxed”]nasa [naw-saw]
verb: to lift; bear, carry away; cast away; ease; erase; take away.[/quote]
This word describes a person taking the burden of another and placing it on himself, just like a mother carries an infant and just like the flood lifted up the ark. If Christ bore our griefs (sicknesses), then they were taken away in the same way that sins were taken away!
Let’s look at the word “carried,” which comes from the Hebrew word “cabal.”
[quote style=”boxed”]cabal [saw-bal]
verb: to carry; bear; and burden.[/quote]
The idea here is that the full load is borne by the one carrying it so that all others might be free of it. Isaiah is telling us that Christ bore all our sicknesses and pain so that we do not need to have them! If we have sickness in our body, it is because we have not unloaded it on Him, by faith. There is no need for us to carry what He has already bore for us. If God had not intended for His people to be free from sin & sickness, then He would not have laid these burdens upon Christ to bear for us.
THE PRICE THAT JESUS PAID FOR US
It is important for us to realize that Jesus was pierced for transgressions that were OURS. He was crushed for iniquities that were OURS. The chastisement for OUR well-being was upon Him, but, by His stripes there is healing for US! God laid on His Son sickness and Jesus accepted that for US. How amazing is it that the God of the universe loved US that much? He sent Jesus to pay the price and purchased OUR healing.
Let’s pretend that I came to you and said that I picked out a brand new car for you from the local car dealership. I paid cash for the car and picked out the exact car you wanted! You’ve been in need of a new car but could not afford one. Now, all you have to do is go get your car that I paid for.
That is what Jesus did for US. Just like that car, all we have to do is receive OUR healing that Jesus has paid for!
Occasionally, my wife cooks wonderful meals for our family. She takes her time to get all of the ingredients at the store and then works to prepare the meal just right. After carefully laying out the food on our plates, she’ll get the table ready for our feast. When it’s all set, she will call us to come eat. Sometimes, the kids will come in and say, “I don’t want that” or “I’m not hungry.”
That is how we sometimes approach healing. Jesus has prepared our healing and presented it to us on a silver platter! Let’s not refuse the finished work of Christ; receive your healing today!