Happy New Year

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Posted on 09 Jul 2015 04:59

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Thank God for 2014!

Thank God for every triumph, every success and even for every failure, for God is using every event of your 2014 to mold and shape you for 2015!

In Isaiah 43:19, God said “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

If your 2014 seemed like a wilderness, full of chaos and confusion then know that God will use those experiences to guide you through what is ahead of you in 2015.

If your 2014 was dry like a desert or a wasteland where nothing seemed to flourish except failure then know that God will make rivers of success flow for you in 2015 as He brings beauty and order out of the ashes of last year!

Embrace the fresh beginning God wants to give you in 2015!

Today is a beautiful day to embrace the Lord's fresh mercies for your life! Lamentations 3:22-23 says “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”

Regardless of what 2014 held for you, it is over! Expect new mercies today and every day this year!

Welcome 2015!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Wednesday, December 31,2014

The God Seekers

Ps. 24: 6 “This is the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face O Jacob.” Selah.

What are you looking for in the New Year? A better job? More meaningful family relationships? Better health? Increased finances?

Whatever you are seeking, whatever you are expecting for the coming year, it is possible to receive if you start by genuinely seeking The Face of God.

Psalm 24 promises not only “blessings from The Lord” but also “righteousness from The God of his salvation” for those who will do what it takes to enter into His Holy Place.

In the coming year, instead of seeking God for things, put all your effort into seeking God’s face. In other words, seek God for relationship. Seek God to know Him and to understand His will for you.

When you seek God’s face, God will grant you access into His Presence … And in His Presence is blessings and righteousness.

Start the year off right!!

Be a part of the generation that seeks the Face of God!

Have I got any God seekers out there?!!

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Tuesday, December 30,2014

I Am What God Says I Am

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” – Ephesians 1:3-6

A lot of folks think of themselves as an improved or slightly-better-than-before version of their old self. But what God says about us in His Word is “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). That means we are no longer just sinners; we are not just reformed and not just better than we used to be; God says we are brand new in Christ.

So the question now is, “are you going to trust what you think about yourself, or, are you going to believe what God says about you?”

God’s Word calls us saints (Rom. 1:7), disciples (Matt. 28:19), and fellow heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17). If you can’t believe what God says about you and you think less of yourself than what you really are,” then you can’t fully experience and enjoy who you are in Christ.

Every Believer has to choose to believe what God says about us. Satan will try to convince believers that God’s Word doesn’t apply to them. He wants to keep you bound by an identity crisis because he knows that if you are struggling with your identity in Christ then you are powerless in the Kingdom. It’s much easier for the devil to keep you bound if you already think of yourself as “just a sinner” , than it is to conquer a disciple who knows that he is “more than a conqueror through Him Who loved us and died for us”.

Who we are in Christ is not defined by our past actions but by what Jesus did for us. Jesus purchased our lives with His blood and brought us into relationship with God the Father, who adopted us as His own children. So as you prepare to walk into the New Year, hold your head up high and boldly proclaim “I am what God says I am!!”

Faithfully,

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Monday, December 29.2014

Go Tell It!

“And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child.” - Luke 2:16-17

After hearing Raven Deans sing the Christmas carol “Go Tell It On The Mountain” a couple of weeks ago, Rev. Sherry Curry, in her usual comical way, encouraged all of us to “Go tell it!”

She made us all laugh, but she was really on point. It is important that we go tell everybody what we have seen and experienced of Jesus!

The shepherds did just that after the angels pointed them to baby Jesus –“they made known abroad”, or rather, they made it widely known, according to Luke 2:17. It seems that those shepherds just couldn’t keep it to themselves; they had to go tell somebody what they had seen. We should feel the same way. How can we keep it to ourselves, having come to a saving knowledge of Jesus the Christ and being redeemed by His precious Blood?

And should you, like me, ever feel unqualified or unworthy to “go tell it”, remember those shepherds long ago, who although they were the most unlikely messengers of the Messiah’s birth – rough, poor, dirty; outcasts of society, yet still they spread the word that the Messiah had come! God could have used the angels to proclaim the news, but He chose the shepherds. God has also chosen you.

“Go tell it!” Be like those shepherds when they saw Jesus and could not keep it to themselves but “made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child.”

Somebody once said, “Christmas is never over for all who truly believe”. And if you are a true Believer, then “go tell it!” – All through the year! Share the good news – but not just of Jesus as the baby in the manger, but of Jesus who came to save us from our sin.

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Sunday, December 28,2014

A Christmas Reflection

As we near the end of our Christmas celebration and prepare for a new year, let us consider this; Almighty God, clothed in radiant glory from eternity past, came to this earth formed as a human being in the womb of a human mother for one purpose: so that He could one day die a miserable death on a Cross to purchase our salvation! This was the reason Jesus came; therefore, He chose to be obedient to the very end, humbling Himself to the point of dying a humiliating death on a Cross and thereby purchasing our eternal salvation.

So be sure to remember the real purpose of Christmas. It isn't just a time to reflect on the baby boy who was born in Bethlehem so long ago. That baby was God manifest in the flesh. He was born to die for you and for me. Jesus was so willing to do whatever was required in order to redeem us from Satan and sin that He humbled Himself even unto death on a Cross! That is what Christmas is all about!

Pray this prayer today.

Lord, I thank You for coming to earth so You could redeem me. When I think of the extent to which You were willing to go in order to save me, it makes me want to shout, to celebrate, and to cry with thankfulness. You love me so much, and I am so grateful for that love. Without You, I would still be lost and in sin. But because of everything You have done for me, today I am free; my life is blessed; Jesus is my Lord; Heaven is my home; and Satan has no right to control me. I will be eternally thankful to You for everything You did to save me!

I pray this in Jesus' name!

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Saturday, December 27,2014

Living for Christ the Rest of the Year

By Dr. Jack Graham

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever." - Luke 1:46-55

It's always a little sad, isn't it? Christmas is over, and soon decorations will come down and be put away in boxes for the next 11 months. It's like we experience this feel-good high that crashes to the ground.

Unfortunately, that's the way many live the spiritual life, just waiting for the next big event so they can get their feel-good fix. But Mary's first Christmas was anything but feel-good.

Mary sang and praised God for the same reasons that we ought to be singing every day of the year: She sang because of her salvation. Mary knew the challenges that were on the horizon and was getting ready to face some severe scrutiny for turning up pregnant and unwed! And never mind the anguish she was going to cause her family, who would be forced to disown her or face the same rejection.

True praise isn't grounded in your circumstances. So as you unwind from Christmas, don't just settle back into business as usual. Take something special from this Christmas like a better appreciation of who Christ is and what he did. Because while you may celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th, you should experience the life of Christ every day as he lives through you.

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE SHOULDN'T BE BASED ON FEEL-GOOD EVENTS BUT ON YOUR DAILY RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST.

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Friday, December 26,2014

How Close Can You Get - And Miss it All

The saddest story of Christmas is how those closest to Christ's birth completely missed that first Christmas; and that tragedy has continued to this day. You can be so close and yet so far away!

The real purpose of Christmas was shown by God at Christ's birth, God confronted the world with the only gift everyone really needs.

Christmas is about the gift no one seeks but everyone needs.

God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to save lost people from their sins.

God came to provide the only gift that everyone absolutely, critically needs—the substitutionary death of His Son, who came to meet our critical, eternal-life-threatening need prompted by our sins.

So the gift of Christmas is Christ's work of salvation. That gift involves meeting the critical needs each of us have in our lost, sinful and fallen condition.

Today as we continue to see those elements of salvation that Christ's birth has brought, we do so by asking the question, "How close can someone get to Christ and His gift of Christmas and not be saved?"

The answer is sadly that you can get very close. Missing Jesus and His salvation is seen most vividly in the story of Christmas. Those closest to the coming of Christ were most untouched by it! In both Luke and Matthew's record we find that you can grow up in the shadow of God's Temple, hear God's Word every day of your life, meet the Wise men themselves, explain the Old Testament to them—and still miss everything, if it is not inside your heart and mind.

ACQUAINTANCE vs. KNOWLEDGE

Christmas is a time to remember that Jesus came to save us from sin and live within us. Beware of getting so close in every way—but in your heart, to Christ. Beware of being acquainted with Christ but never knowing Him. Webster's Dictionary says that knowledge has three levels: recognition, acquaintance, and experience. Knowing Christ means a personal experience of His grace that leads us to partake of His salvation.

How close can you get to Jesus and still be too far away? That is what the religious leaders of Christ's day demonstrate to us this Christmas. So close they got, and yet so far away they remained. It is possible to be as close as them, and yet miss all that Christ and Christmas have to offer.

Matthew 2 and Luke 1 introduce us the chief priests and scribes, with daily immersion in the Scriptures, endless hours of singing and serving, and constant exposure to all that God had left to point to Him and His salvation—they only held God's Word externally—never in their wills and souls. God was only near in their mouths—and not in their hearts.

Christmas is a time to remember that Jesus came to save us from sin and live within us. Beware of getting so close in every way—but in your heart, to Christ. Beware of being acquainted with Christ but never knowing Him.

Originally posted on Crosswalk

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Thursday, December 25,2014

Carol: Hodie, Christus natus est

Hodie Christus natus est - Today is Christ born

hodie Salvator apparuit: - Today the Savior has appeared

hodie in terra canunt Angeli, —— Today the Angels sing

laetantur Archangeli: - The Archangels rejoice:

hodie exsultant justi, dicentes: —- Today the righteous rejoice, saying:

Gloria in excelsis Deo, alleluja. - Glory to God in the Highest, Alleluia!

Dr. J.M. Wooten


Wednesday, December 24,2014

Has the Grinch Stolen Your Christmas?

“And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” - Luke 2:10-11

Without a doubt, Christmas is to be a time of GREAT JOY. On that first Christmas night, the angel announced to the shepherds “good news of a great joy.” The Savior has come!! WOW!! Those shepherds were so excited. That announcement changed their lives forever. They were filled with joy and wonder and praise.
At Christmas time, are you filled with joy and wonder and praise? Or has the devil, the original Grinch, the thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy, stolen those things from you? If so, there is still time to get it back!
Think about the angel’s announcement, “There has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” What does that really mean for you and me?

1. The Savior has come to save you from a dark past. So many people are suffering with intense guilt over bad things they have done in the past. The devil beats them to death with shame and guilt. But be beaten no longer! All the terrible, horrible things you have done are no match for the Savior’s blood that He shed for you on the cross. The moment you confess those sins to God and repent of them, you are forgiven!! Remember what the Savior said to Peter, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” (Acts 10:15).

2. The Savior has come to save you from an empty present. Many people are surviving and not really living. Jesus came at Christmas not to fill your empty stocking, but to fill your empty life! He has a purpose and a plan for you. Come to Him. Surrender to Him. Let Him lead you. He wants to bring you joy and peace, regardless of your circumstances. He wants to use your life to make a difference in others, a difference that will last for all eternity. It makes life worth living to know that everyday is an exciting adventure with the Lord, an opportunity to touch another person with the love and joy of Jesus.

3. The Savior has come to save you from a hopeless future. Everyone without God is without hope. No one comes to the Father without the Savior, Jesus Christ. But now He has come, and we can really know Him personally, and we can be assured of His presence and provision while we live … and His heaven when we die. Paul said, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). WOW! What a future is in store for the child of God!

My friend, do not let the devil steal from you and your Christmas time any longer! The Savior has come, and He has come for you! Receive the good news and rejoice in the truth!

By Jeff Schreve of From His Heart Ministries

Dr. J.M. Wooten


Tuesday, December 23,2014

What Christmas Is About

“Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:7

As we look at our world today, we realize that part of the promise of Isaiah 9:6-7 has not yet been fulfilled. The Son has been given. The Child has been born. But He has not yet taken the government upon His shoulders. We do not yet have peace with judgment and justice. But the good news is that there will come a day when Christ will return. He will establish His kingdom on this earth. And it will be the righteous rule of God Himself.
Before Jesus could take the government upon His shoulder, He had to take the cross upon His shoulder. Before He could wear the crown of glory as King of Kings, He had to wear the shameful crown of thorns and give His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The first time, a star marked His arrival. But the next time He comes, the heavens will roll back like a scroll, all of the stars will fall from the sky, and He Himself will light it.
Christ came to this earth. God came near to you so you can come near to Him—to give your life purpose and meaning, to forgive you of your sins, and to give you the hope of heaven beyond the grave. Christmas is not about tinsel or shopping or presents. Christmas is not about the gifts under the tree. Rather, Christmas is about the gift that was given on the tree when Christ died there for our sins and gave us the gift of eternal life.

This devotion was originally posted by Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries.

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Monday, December 22,2014

The Star: A Sign from God

Matthew 2:2 reads, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.”

Not too many children are so important that their arrival is marked by signs in the sky above. But this child's coming was marked with a star. Christmas trees today still have symbols on top reminding us today of that special birthday star.
The star - the wise men saw it! They looked up and knew what it represented. It was proclaiming the birth of the Lord's Messiah, the world's Savior, and God's selected King of the Jews.
The star - it pointed to the only one who was truly worth our worship, our gifts, and our collective futures. The wise men saw what the star meant! They dropped everything and began the only journey that could have mattered at that point. They started their journey to find this child, this gift, this life-maker and life-changer.
The star - it rested upon the place of Bethlehem to mark a promise fulfilled. A promise made by God Himself about the coming of His chosen person to bring true peace, healing, and forgiveness to the world. The wise men saw the event the star celebrated! God has kept His word! His Chosen One is here! And His name is Jesus!
But just as Jesus' first visit to earth came with a sign from above, God promises that Jesus' second visit will be accompanied by another sign from above as well.

Acts 2:19-21 reads, “And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below - blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

This Christmas as we tell our children about the star in the sky, we need to also tell them about the rest of the signs God is using today to mark the second coming of Christ.
Just like a rainbow points to a promise from God and just like a star points to another; solar eclipses accompanied by the blood red moons are the fulfillment of yet another promise from God.
Jesus is coming again and coming soon!
Wise men still know what the signs from above represent. Wise men also drop everything to worship the only One worth worshipping - Jesus Christ!

by Todd Burpo

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Sunday, December 21,2014

God's Gift to Us (Part 2)

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” — Isaiah 9:6
We celebrate Christmas in order to rejoice over God's most precious gift to us. The birth of Jesus Christ is a gift from God that came in simple wrapping, as well as a gift we don't deserve. But the gift of Christ also explains His purpose for humankind.
The gift of Christ was no afterthought. Long before there was a stable in Bethlehem, before Adam and Eve ever set eyes on each other, and even before there existed a garden called Eden, God decided to send His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins.
From the beginning, God knew humankind would fall short of His glory. That is why the Scriptures proclaim that Jesus Christ “was slain from the foundation of the world” (see Revelation 13:8).
God made a decision from the very beginning that Christ would come to this earth to live and die and rise again from the dead. God's gift to us proves His purpose to redeem us.
The gift of Jesus Christ is what Christmas is all about. Jesus came near to us so we could come near to Him.
Christmas is not about tinsel or shopping or gifts under a tree. Christmas is about the gift God gave on the tree where Christ died for our sins, giving us the gift of eternal life.
That is what He has accomplished. This is the gift He extends. And if you receive it, you will experience the merriest Christmas of all.
This devotion was originally posted by Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries.

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Saturday, December 20,2014

God's Gift to Us (Part 1)

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” — John 3:17

When you're a child, Christmas is all about receiving gifts. In December, your head is swimming with nothing but images of your favorite toys. But the true message of Christmas is not the presents we give to one another. The true meaning is the gift that God gave to us, His Son Jesus Christ.
During the next two days, I want to point out to you three things about the gift God gave to us in that tiny manger in Bethlehem.
The first thing we want to realize about God's gift to us is that it came in simple wrapping. Some people will go to great lengths to wrap presents beautifully. But God's gift came to us not in beautiful, ornate wrapping, but in a dirty manger found in a cold cave in a little-known town called Bethlehem.
That's the beauty of the Christmas event. Jesus took His place in a manger so that we might have a home in heaven. The Savior was not wrapped in satin sheets, but in common rags. There in a manger rested the greatest gift in the plainest of wrapping.
The second thing I want to point out about God's gift to us is that we don't deserve it. Consider this: God gave us the ultimate gift of His Son Jesus Christ while we were still sinning against Him (see Romans 5:8).
We did nothing whatsoever to merit or deserve His gift. That is the amazing truth of Christmas. Despite who we are, God sent His Son so "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
With Christmas just days away, begin to prepare your heart for the celebration of the birth of our Savior. Meditate on the fact that Jesus was born to die so that we might live.

This devotion was originally posted by Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries.

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Friday, December 19,2014

Let Us Worship!

"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."—Matthew 2:2

The very word "Christmas" has been emptied of its meaning, drug through the gutter, and given back to us, minus its power. Some prefer to use the more politically correct terminology at this time of year, like "Happy Holidays," "Merry Xmas," or even "Happy Winter Solstice." But I actually think those things are not as bad as the person who says, "Merry Christmas" with no idea whatsoever of what Christmas really means.
I think we should cancel the version of Christmas that is filled with hype and endless activity leading to exhaustion, the version that gives little to any thought of Christ. We should cancel Christmas and instead celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I still believe in Christmas, but not in the holiday as our culture celebrates it. I believe in the real message of Christmas, which is the birth of our Lord.
Maybe you are bracing yourself for a tough Christmas. Maybe you think Christmas won't be as good this year as it was before. But what if this Christmas were better than any Christmas you have ever experienced, because you have been freed from the pressure of having to get stuff? That could be a really good Christmas. It could actually be the most wonderful Christmas of your life.
The primary message of Christmas is this: God is with us. Isaiah 7:14 tells us, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." Immanuel means, "God is with us."
So the message of the season is not, "Let it snow" or even, "Let us shop." The real message of Christmas is, "Let us worship." That is what the wise men came to do. And that is what we should be doing as well.

This devotion was originally posted by Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Thursday, December 18,2014

The Origin of Christmas

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 KJV

When Pope Julius I, declared December 25 to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus in AD 353, who would have ever thought that it would become what it is today? And when Professor Charles Follen lit candles on the first Christmas tree in America in 1832, who would have ever thought that decorations would become as glamorous as they are today?

Even before these two events that shaped what Christmas means today for most, there was a bright, special star that lit the dark night thousands of years ago, letting the world know that Jesus the King was born. Usually we don’t celebrate historical figures as children, but in the case of Christ, it is appropriate.

When Christ was born, shepherds came to honor Him, wise men from the East brought Him gifts, and the earth rejoiced at His birth. The people who came to worship Him had no idea what Christ would accomplish as an adult. But they were right in traveling to worship the King because His birth was the most remarkable event in human history. Wise men and women today worship not only the Child of Bethlehem, but the Christ of Calvary.

As we approach the holiday season again, we have another opportunity to pause in the midst of all the excitement, decorations, and commercialization, to consider again the origin of Christmas—the One whose birth we celebrate. Let’s not forget the true meaning of why we celebrate during this time of year. Celebrate the baby Jesus and trust Him as Savior today.

Thank God for sending His Son that glorious night to be born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, died on the cross for your sins, and rose from the dead three days later to give you eternal life through Him.

Thank God for Christ The Lord!

Adapted from Senior Living Ministries Christmas Devotionals

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Wednesday, December 17,2014

Don't be the Scrooge

Isaiah 9:6
One of my favorite Christmas stories is the classic Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In that story Ebenezer Scrooge was a bitter old man who did not celebrate Christmas or even understand what Christmas was all about. To Mr. Scrooge, Christmas was a “humbug”.
It seems every Christmas story has to have a Scrooge, from predictable Hallmark dramas to children's books. The reason we always write a jerk into our holiday stories is because it's true. It's real life.
Today I want to encourage you not to be the Scrooge. And how easy it is to become a Scrooge. Maybe you're experiencing heartbreak and loneliness. Maybe you remember past failures and disappointments. Maybe your parents have to tighten the belt and you have fewer packages under the tree. Maybe Christmas is a tough time because you're reminded again of the fragility and dysfunction of your family. Perhaps you wish your family would be like the others who seem to have it all together.
Or… maybe you're stressed out because you have a ton of stuff to do… Recitals, plays, people, parties.
The circumstances and environment around the holidays make it all too easy to become a Scrooge. And I'm saying, don't let it happen to you. Why? Because, of all people, it is Christians who should be full of joy on Christmas. Why? Because this is the celebration of our story, how God moved dramatically to rescue His creation by sending Jesus to live, first as a baby, then as a growing boy, and then as a man.
Christmas is good news. It is God's entrance into the world. God didn't stay in Heaven as a detached deity, he moved to become flesh. What a powerful story.
How do you avoid becoming a Christmas jerk?
First, meditate on the story. Go back to the chapters in Isaiah and Matthew and Luke. Remember why we celebrate.
Second, go with the flow. What I mean is hold your Christmas plans loosely. Remember it’s about love, about giving, about peace. So if you get stiffed on the Xbox, let it go.
Third, find ways to give back this Christmas. Is there a needy child, a program at your church, a community center that needs your time and perhaps your money? Give.
Fourth, don't get hung up on frivolous stuff. Don't be a Christian who whines about commercialization, about the "War on Christmas." Just fight against those things with genuine, Holy-Spirit-led Christmas cheer.
Strive this year, to be part of the good at Christmas. And leave the jerkiness to Dickens, Hallmark Channel, and others.

Adapted from “Don’t Be A Christmas Jerk” by Daniel Darling

Faithfully,

Dr. J. M. Wooten


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

When Christmas Feels Chaotic

by Lysa Terkeurst

“We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it”. - Psalm 39:6
Last Christmas, I was rushing about, frustrated. Every year I say I’m going to get better about scaling back so I can really keep my focus where it needs to be for the season. I have moments where I do this well. But I have other moments that are just plain pitiful.
Honestly, I can be an utter nincompoop.I went to Target for wrapping paper and somehow left the store having spent ninety-seven dollars on who knows what. Then got all the way home before I realized I left the wrapping paper on that little shelf underneath the shopping cart. At checkout I didn’t remember to grab it and purchase it. So all my moments of trying to match this and that to keep up with expectations in this Pinterest-crazed world were all for nothing.
Now I’d be using recycled Happy Birthday bags — wrinkled and well past their prime — for the gifts that needed to be wrapped right this second or we were going to be late for the Christmas party. And then — oh my, glory heavens — I remembered I was supposed to bring cookies to said party. A–M last names were supposed to bring appetizers.
 N–Z last names were supposed to bring desserts. Desperation found me digging in my pantry, emerging with some Easter chocolates shaped like eggs and wrapped in pastel foil. I’ll call them chocolate ornaments, I rationalized.
While all this was happening, my husband, Art, kept saying something to me about wanting to give money to one of his employees. “We’ll have to talk about that later,” I snapped back, aggravated that he thought this moment of rushed panic was a good time to bring up giving. My brain went off on this tangent of thoughts about how I give and give and give and give and sometimes just get sick and tired of giving. So now I’m bringing Easter candy to a Christmas party I don’t even want to go to with presents wrapped in birthday-balloon-covered bags.
“Mom, why did you wrap the gifts that way?” The teenager with her hand on her hip had no clue how close I was to seriously canceling Christmas. “Oh, you don’t even know the half of it. We’re also bringing Easter candy for our dessert. And if you say one critical comment about my obviously brilliant party-attending skills, we won’t go. Now go get in the car, and let’s pretend like we’re happy to be going to this party.”
And then my husband said something else about not being able to wait to talk about the money needed to help his employee, and I snapped back once again, “I don’t want to help.”

You know that wonderful feeling of conviction that says without a doubt you are the worst human on the planet? Like if they were handing out certificates for “worst person,” you would own the title for this moment in history? That would have been my moment.
Remember to look for God
I was so caught up in the rush of superficial things in my world that I missed hearing the cries for help in someone else’s world. God had been prompting me to listen, really listen, to my husband, to stop and focus and give him just a few minutes. But I refused. I rushed past. And I acted like I was perfectly justified in doing so.
My husband was requesting money for a precious family I hadn’t met yet. The wife had just started working at my husband’s restaurant. They were from another country and didn’t speak English. This made it difficult to let others know about their need for help. They didn’t have many friends here. And they had just been through the most tragic event of their lives. They’d had a daughter born in late spring with many complications. And just that morning she’d lost the battle for her life.
While I was stressed about leaving my wrapping paper at Target, a friend of this mom called my husband to ask for help to pay for a funeral. When I finally clued in to what my husband was talking about, I felt so horribly convicted. It wasn’t just about being too busy; it was also about my closed-fisted reaction when I knew he wanted to talk about giving money.
Just that morning I’d been praying and asking God to show Himself to me. I asked the God of the universe to intersect my life with His revelation, then got up from my prayers and forgot to look, forgot to seek Him, forgot to keep my heart in tune with His voice and His invitation. All because of the chaotic rush of my day.
Psalm 39:6 tells us that “all our busy rushing ends in nothing.” I’m so challenged by this. It was certainly true for me that day.
When all of life feels like an urgent rush from one demand to another, we become forgetful. We forget simple things like where we put our car keys or that one crucial ingredient for dinner when we run into the grocery store. But even more disturbing, we forget God. We say with our mouths that we are trusting and relying on God, but are we really?
A quick check to see if this is true is our ability to notice what God wants us to notice and our willingness to participate when God invites us to participate.
So what about you? What is God trying to show you that your rush is causing you to miss out on this Christmas season?
Ask God to reveal Himself to you today, and then remember. Remember to slow down and pay attention in the middle of the rush. Remember your prayer. Remember to look for God.
Excerpt adapted from The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. Used with permission from Thomas Nelson, 2014.
Amid the busy,busy,busy, of this season, we must remember that it's Advent — a time of slowing down to remember Christ's first coming and look forward to His second coming! What is God trying to show you that your rush is causing you to miss out on this Christmas season? Join the conversation on the blog! We would love from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

Faithfully,

Dr. J. M. Wooten

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