When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” – Matthew 2:13 (NIV)
Once again, we see how amazing God’s choice for Jesus’ parents was. In today’s verse we see Joseph having another dream that probably seemed pretty crazy. More than likely Joseph had a good job, he had family, friends, and things were probably going well for him. And here we see an angel tells him in a dream to move the family to Egypt.
I’m not sure I would have wanted to pack up right away. But Joseph did. He without question, packed up the family and went to Egypt just as the angel had asked Him to do.
Joseph was a man who followed God immediately. He didn’t wait until it all made sense. Instead, he followed God and did what God asked him to do. Joseph put aside his career, his comfort, his friends and followed God. The result was Jesus staying safe and ultimately dying for our sin.
Now, you following God might not result in saving the world. But it might be important. God might be showing you something to do, somewhere to go, or someone to talk to about Him. Are you willing to obey him right away? Would you put your career, friends and family on the line to follow Him?
That’s an important question to ponder. Following Jesus might require you to do those things at some point in your life. Would be willing to do that? Would you give it all up to follow Him?
Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.- Matthew 1:19-20 (NIV)
Today’s verse is about Joseph. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be Joseph? He was to be married to Mary. Then before they came together, Mary is found to be pregnant. Joseph is merciful, and decides to divorce Mary quietly.
What amazing character Joseph must have had. I don’t think if I thought that my future spouse wasn’t faithful to me that I’d try to do what’s best for them. I’d probably be telling everyone I met that I’d been cheated on. And yet, that’s not what Joseph did. He kept it quiet. Joseph showed Mary mercy and tried to do what was best for her.
As he’s trying to do this, Joseph has a dream. The dream tells him to go ahead and take Mary as his wife.
Once again, can you imagine being Joseph? Something that never had happened before in the history of the world was happening to his future spouse. Joseph had to believe what God said and act on it. Even though it seemed impossible, Joseph believed God.
Then he quickly obeyed God. He didn’t try to figure it all out in his head. He didn’t try to understand how this could happen. Instead, he obeyed God and took Mary to be his wife.
What an amazing man. That he would be willing to follow God’s leading so fully, even when it didn’t make any sense.
So how about you? Has God asked you to do something that doesn’t seem to make sense? Has he asked you to step out into something unfamiliar? If so, you’re not alone. When God asks people to do things for Him, the things He asks them to do don’t always make a lot of sense to us. And that’s where trust in God comes in. If you’re to do something big for God, you’ve got to trust Him over what might make sense to you or what you can see and understand.
So today, challenge yourself to step out into what God is asking you to do. Don’t be afraid, don’t worry about whether you understand it fully. Instead, keep stepping out and know that God will come through for you!
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. – Luke 2:8 (NIV)
Another interesting group of people in the Christmas story were the shepherds. Can you imagine being hard at work, watching sheep, maybe getting ready to sleep for the night and then having angels show up and talk to you?
These shepherds undoubtedly were taken off guard. That night probably had started off like any other night, and yet ended in such a dramatic and glorious way. Angels appeared to them and told them that Jesus had been born.
After hearing and seeing the angels, the shepherds had a choice to make. They could have thought, man, I can’t really leave my sheep here. I’m in charge of watching and taking care of them. Who knows what might happen to them if I simply leave. And they might have talked themselves out of being a part of the Christmas story. They could have found some really good reasons not to leave their sheep and to simply ignore the fact that the lamb of God had been born.
Instead, they listened to the angels and obeyed. They went looking earnestly for Jesus.
How about you? How do you respond when God asks you to do something? Do you find all the reasons why it doesn’t make sense to follow God? Or think that following God is something you’ll do when you’re older?
What would happen if you decided to instantly obey God’s leading and do what He is prompting you to do? How would your world be changed?
Challenge yourself to obey right away when God speaks to you. Don’t find reasons why you can’t do it. Instead, obey, and know that God will take care of you.
Today’s Truth: Obey, knowing God will take care of you.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. – Luke 2:19 (NIV)
The Christmas season is coming upon us, and with that, we thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the characters in the Christmas story. Who were they and what can we learn from them?
Today we’re going to look at Mary. Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. There were lots of women at the time that God could have chosen. Yet, something about Mary was special. Could it be that she was tender toward the things of God? Or perhaps that she heard God’s voice and was quick to obey it?
It also says in today’s verse that Mary treasured these things and pondered them in her heart. She heard God speak, and didn’t forget it, or ignore it. Instead, she made room for God in her life. She thought about what He had spoken to her. It was probably this sensitivity to the things of God that helped God choose her to impact the world.
So how about you? Are you sensitive to the things of God? When God speaks, are you willing and ready to obey? What if like Mary, it costs you something? Mary probably knew that it might cost her a future marriage, it would make her friends and relatives question her character. And yet, she chose to say yes to God.
Take some time this Christmas season to prepare your heart. Determine to be like Mary and be ready to say yes to God no matter what it costs you.
Today’s Truth: Prepare your heart to say “yes” to God.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35 (NIV)
How do you know that a car is a car? There are certain characteristics about a car that make it unique. These are the things that help you recognize a car. For example, you notice that it has four wheels, side mirrors, windows or an engine. These things make a car different than a horse, or a house.
How you know a car is a car is a lot like what today’s Bible verse is talking about. There are certain things that make a Christian a Christian. One of those things is love. As Christians, we should be loving each other, not tearing others down. Love is a characteristic that should define Christians.
Love shows up in many areas of our lives. How do we treat our mom? What do we do about the old lady down the street that needs help bringing in her groceries? These things are all examples of showing love to others. Love should be a trademark for Christians.
Examine your life today. Are you letting God’s love shine through you? Are you open and ready for opportunities to love others? If you’re not, simply make any necessary adjustments in your life and let God’s love flow through you to those around you.
God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. – Hebrews 2:10 (NLT)
God loves relationships. He wanted a family, so He did whatever was necessary to bring others into His family. That’s good news for you! It means that God wanted you.
He wanted a relationship with you and that you’ll only find true happiness and true purpose in Him.
You’ll never find true happiness in other people, things or possessions. True happiness and sense of purpose come from a relationship with God.
Today’s Truth: True Happiness comes out of a relationship with God.
So remind yourself today that your value comes from God. Your purpose comes from God. In God, you find the love that your heart desires. Through a relationship with God, you can find all of the things you need to succeed in life.
You enter into the family of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:8-9). So today take a moment to thank God for bringing you into His family through Jesus. Thank God for His salvation and the fact that we are now able to have a relationship with Him.
Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.” – 2 Chronicles 20:20 (NLT)
Have you ever felt overwhelmed? Maybe you’re scared about not getting into the right college, or fearful that your parents aren’t doing well financially. Or perhaps there’s something else causing you to fear. All those things can feel bigger than you and leave you feeling helpless and alone.
In 2 Chronicles 20:20, we see that Judah and Jerusalem were surrounded by a big army. Can you imagine how that must have felt? There was a huge army coming to kill them and fight against them. They probably felt scared and alone and hopeless.
Here’s the great thing. In this scripture we see that they were asked to put their trust and belief in God and they would succeed. God had planned to have the armies fight against each other and give Jehoshaphat a victory.
God wants to do the same for you. He wants to help defeat the scary things that you face. We simply have to trust God and believe in Him and His goodness.
So instead of being scared of what you see around you, choose to put your faith in Jesus. Choose to trust Him and believe that He will see you through whatever you’re facing. If you do, God can work amazing things on your behalf. He’s able to do amazing things if you’ll trust and ask Him.
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” – Numbers 21:4-5 (NIV)
It’s so easy to read through Numbers and not understand why the Israelites were such complainers. I’ve read it before and thought, why are you complaining? Don’t you know in 3 or 4 pages later in the Bible you get to enter the promised land? Seriously…why are you complaining.
And then it hit me. They didn’t know. They didn’t know that in three pages they were going into the promised land. All they knew was they weren’t where they wanted to be yet. And they had no idea how long it was going to take to get there.
They experienced lots of set backs. And they obviously felt discouraged and became impatient.
And honestly, I do too. I often wonder how long is it going to be God? How long do I have to remain patient? How long until I see results in my own life?
So what can we learn from Israel? I think the lesson from this passage is that it’s really all about trust. We have to trust God. We have to trust that He is going to bring us to where we want to be. But that takes faith. Because a lot of the time we don’t see when or how it’s going to happen.
Many times we have to be patient when we don’t see the promises coming to pass yet in our lives. We have to be patient in the midst of situations that aren’t exactly going the way we would choose. That takes faith and character. We have to keep our eyes on Jesus and see Him and the promises in the Word as more real that what we see going on around us.
Ask yourself today, am I being patient? Have I allowed myself to become discouraged with the setbacks that I’ve faced? And if so, ask God’s help. Ask Him to help you stay encouraged.
Today’s Truth: We have to see Jesus as more real than what is going on around us.
We’re thankful for those of you who have faithfully read this devotional. We appreciate all the kind comments, emails, and especially your prayers. We’re going to take a couple of days off to spend with family and friends for thanksgiving.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will cause food to fall from the sky. This food will be for you to eat. Every day the people should go out and gather the food they need that day. – Exodus 16:4 (ERV)
We’ve been talking this week about being thankful. It’s easy to forget where God has brought us out of, and become complainers. However, if we choose to focus on what God has done in our past, it will help us remain thankful, even if we’re not yet in the place we’d ideally like to be.
And you might be in the midst of a situation you’d rather not be in. Life sometimes hands you things you’d rather not deal with. However, if you’re going to stay thankful, you can’t lose hope that God will turn your situation around.
You’ve got to believe that God will move in your future.
In today’s verse, we see that God did indeed move for the Israelites. He provided food for them from the sky. And God will do the same for you. I mean, you probably won’t get a bunch of manna in your backyard, but God will provide.
He always comes through, it’s just up to you to stay believing, not complain, and know that He will come through in your future!