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Today's Devotional from Grace in the Workplace
Wednesday, December 31 2014

Verse of the Day

 

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen. [Psalm 41:13 – NIV]

  

Human beings like (and need) milestones. God programmed us that way. We have days, months, years, and we have the seasons. This kind of repetitiousness is intentional. We are slow and dense and need to learn. Anyway, how do you feel about last year and what about the year that lies ahead? As you reflect on the past year, do the good things come to mind or are you burdened by memories of pain, disappointment, and sorrow? What about the future? Are you encouraged about what God has in store for you or are you resigned to a boring, miserable, and unsatisfying life?

 

If you are worried and unsure about what the future holds for you, guess what? We are right back in the midst of the attitude thing! Accentuate the positive! It is not too difficult to see all the wondrous things that God has blessed you with. And never give up on the future. Trust and obey God. The Lord has promised good to you and to me and you can take that to the bank! One last thing, God is omnipresent. He is everywhere at once. He is Alpha and Omega. That means that He existed at the beginning of time, He is here in the present, and He is already out in the future. And since He is in the future right now, He is busy preparing it for you and for me. You can take comfort and great joy in that!

 

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Tuesday, December 30 2014

Verse of the Day

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” [Micah 5:2 – NIV]

“O little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie…” So begins the first stanza of one of the best loved Christmas hymns ever written and one of my favorites, too! Part of my affection for it is based on my growing up in Bethlehem, PA, the “Christmas City,” but that’s certainly not the only reason for my fondness. There is something about the birth of the Christ Child that touches all of us. His humble birth in Bethlehem is a very compelling story.

So why in the world did God pick Bethlehem as His Son’s birthplace? After all, one would expect that the Son of God would be born in a city of significance, Jerusalem for example, and not a little town that nobody paid much attention to. Today’s passage makes clear that Bethlehem was indeed chosen by God to be the birthplace of His Son. Bethlehem was the city of David, and it was foretold that the Christ would be of the lineage of King David. Jesus, like his ancestor, David, came to earth as a humble servant. A humble birth was only appropriate for Him.

Although Jesus made clear that He was God’s Son, He never used the title “Son of God.” Instead He preferred to use “Son of Man” so as to identify Himself with us. The Messiah came to be a servant. He was humble, caring, loving, kind, compassionate, and full of grace. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. What better place than Bethlehem for His birth? Let’s prepare for Him in our hearts as we celebrate this Advent season.

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Monday, December 29 2014

Verse of the Day

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. [Isaiah 7:14 – NKJV]

The Old Testament is strewn with references to Jesus’ birth, His life, and His death from the first book to the last. The messianic prophesy is very compelling. It really is hard for us as mere mortals to grasp or comprehend the fact that God came to earth to live with us. Just imagine Immanuel, God with us! And He wasn’t just with us, He was one of us! Amazing, isn’t it?

And so this Advent season as we prepare our hearts for the birth of our Lord, let’s never forget that He came to earth to live with us. O come, o come, Immanuel!

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Wednesday, December 24 2014

Verse of the Day

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [John 3:16 KJV]

As Believers, we are called to give of ourselves constantly. This commandment is one that we obey joyfully by giving our all, as expressed by tithes of our financial resources, time, and talent, all in good Christian stewardship. This is perhaps our defining attribute as we reach outward to our community and the world around us.

Although giving is really a year-round thing, it takes on special meaning for us during the Christmas season. Not only do we give traditional Christmas gifts to our family and friends, but we also give generously to all kinds of charities and other worthwhile causes. All of these opportunities to bless and serve others are truly wonderful gifts, but they pale in comparison to the gift that God gave to us, the “ultimate gift”—His son, Jesus Christ!

Christmastime is so very special to us as Believers, because we are like little children who go to bed on Christmas Eve with a great anticipation of the many wonderful gifts that will be under the tree when they awake on Christmas morning.  Our excitement, however, is the tremendous expectation of God’s gift to us, the ultimate gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you, God!

Merry Christmas!

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Tuesday, December 23 2014

Verse of the Day

 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” [Luke 2:14 – NKJV]

 

Christmas is such a special time of year! Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone is a little kinder, gentler, more tolerant, and even, Heaven forbid, actually civil to one another? People on the streets and in the malls are happy, merry, jolly, and downright friendly. There really is joy in the air. But, if we delve down under the surface, many of us are not filled with the Christmas spirit. If you guessed that I’m referring to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the needy among us you’d be wrong. No, I’m referring to the lonely, the depressed, the brokenhearted, and the bitter, miserable souls who sit at home at Christmas crying themselves to sleep. People who have recently lost a spouse, a child or other loved ones, those without jobs, those who for whatever reason feel all alone in the world—all of these go into a downward spiral at Christmas time.

 

Compare these folks to the rest of us who are blessed with family and friends, go to parties, feel festive, sing Christmas hymns and carols, shop for gifts, play with the grandkids, and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a contrast! So, please be aware of the people around you. The sad and forlorn are not always visible. You never know, the person in the cubicle next to you could be suffering this Christmas. So, make a special effort to let Jesus shine through you this Christmas. Be kind to everyone you meet. Make sure you share the joy of Jesus’ birth in a way that lifts the spirits of those around you! Let love and mercy rule the day!

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Monday, December 22 2014

Verse of the Day

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 – NKJV]

It’s not my favorite Christmas hymn, but “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming” is one that I really do enjoy. Truth be told, I love all Christmas music, hymns, carols; they’re all special. Singing praise about the birth of our Lord and Savior—what could be better? Anyway, back to “Rose.” The second verse begins with some of the most memorable and uplifting words in any Christmas hymn: “Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind.” The specific reference is the Immanuel prophesy in Isaiah 7:14-17. However, Isaiah goes on in today’s passage to proclaim Jesus’s birth.  He describes the names of Jesus as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. How can you not have faith in Jesus, who is our Everything? Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

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Friday, December 19 2014

Verse of the Day

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. [Isaiah 40:5 – NKJV]

There is so much substance in Isaiah. What an amazing and fascinating book! In today’s passage, God’s prophet Isaiah tells the Israelites to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and that glory was revealed through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! Nothing more needs to be said. The mouth of the Lord has spoken it, and His Word is the Gospel truth!

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Thursday, December 18 2014

Verse of the Day

Fear God and keep His commandments… [Ecclesiastes 12:13 – NKJV]

King Solomon started off strong in his walk with the Lord, but eventually he lost his way. His downward spiral was attributable to the two things he railed against the most in Proverbs: women and money. Like many in the secular world today, he found life to be empty, meaningless, pointless, and futile; eventually he hit rock bottom. Later in life he “rediscovered” God. Solomon chronicles his life experiences in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Today’s passage provides the answer to Solomon’s search for meaning and purpose in life: “Fear God and keep His commandments.” Ecclesiastes is a very profound book; it speaks to Believers and non-believers alike.

It’s a powerful message for the non-believer because Solomon walked in his/her shoes. If you are trying to find meaning in life by climbing the corporate ladder in a search for wealth and power; by buying a mansion in a gated community or a Ferrari for your garage, or hanging with the “in crowd” to elevate your social standing, you will no doubt become disillusioned, discouraged, and depressed. You will find life meaningless and without purpose. For a non-believer the only way to really discover the meaning of life is to “discover” God. A relationship with Jesus Christ is the key to a full and complete life. After all, our purpose in life is to worship and glorify (and enjoy!) the Lord our God.

Much as we hate to admit it, we Believers also go through times of disillusionment and depression. We occasionally see life as meaningless and futile. The book of Ecclesiastes is a great reminder for us that our lives have meaning and purpose only if we “fear God and keep His commandments.”

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Wednesday, December 17 2014

Verse of the Day

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. [Jeremiah 23:5 – NIV]

The Old Testament is replete with references to the coming of the Messiah. Every book in the Bible shouts His Holy Name. No human king could ever reign wisely and do what is just and right. Only Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, could fulfill this prophesy. We look forward with eager anticipation to the Second Coming!

And He will reign forever and ever. Come Lord Jesus! Hallelujah!

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Tuesday, December 16 2014

Verse of the Day

And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” [Genesis 11:4 – NKJV]

We have always been fascinated with the heights of buildings, skyscrapers that touch the heavens. This fixation with reaching into the sky has been part of all religions for centuries as mankind tries to connect with their gods. When the Israelites wandered away from the Lord their God, they worshipped the gods of the pagans in the “high places.” Clearly getting closer to the stars has meaning when trying to reach a higher power.

In today’s passage we see the futility of mankind after the Flood as they disobey God and build a tower to reach into Heaven. Ironically, the tower was probably only about seven stories tall, but that’s not the point. God disrupted their plans, confused their language, and the Tower of Babel was no more. But what about today?

Skyscrapers have been a part of our landscape for more than a century. There are good reasons for their existence: limitations on land use, the cost of land, economies of scale, etc. Most of these factors have to do with how our cities have developed, but that is certainly not the only reason that man seems to be so fascinated with the heights of these modern-day behemoths. There is always a competition going on, isn’t there? Who has the tallest building? New York? Chicago? Los Angeles? In the old days it was the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower. Then, we had the World Trade Center, which was tragically destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001. Today there are the competitors from other counties, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and China. What’s up with all of this? Is man still fixated with trying to reach into the heavens? I think the answer is an emphatic “yes!”

Don’t you know that God is looking down on us and wondering why we don’t get it? We just never seem to learn, do we?

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Monday, December 15 2014

Verse of the Day

 

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. [Luke 1:38 – NKJV]

 

There are several examples of people of great faith in the New Testament: the centurion in Mathew 8, the Apostle Paul, Stephen, and the “heroes” listed in Hebrews 11, but there is perhaps no greater example of faith than that of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

 

Just imagine that you are a young teenage girl betrothed to be married and one day the angel of the Lord shows up and tells you that, oh by the way, you are going to give birth to the Son of God. Surely she was frightened, terrified, confused, and doubtful. Mother of the Messiah, how can it be? And she a virgin! Despite all the emotion that was swirling around in her head, her response was one of resolute faith.

 

As today’s passage tells us, Mary did as the Lord commanded. Her response to the angel, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” demonstrates her complete obedience and trust in the Lord. There is no greater faith that this.

 

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Friday, December 12 2014

Verse of the Day

“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” [John 14:7 – NIV]

What is the Father like? If you want to know Him intimately, learn His ways; get to know Jesus. Read about Jesus our Lord and Savior in the New Testament and you will see God. You will learn His likes and dislikes; how He treats His people; what’s really important to Him and what’s not; and on and on. You will also learn that God has emotions. He is not some cold, distant god; He is not an automaton. Our God has feelings. He loves and hates; He gets angry. After all, He is God and He has a right to. He is righteous and holy, but even thought He is set apart He has a real love for His children and wants to be with us.

You might be surprised to learn that God has a sense of humor. In fact, as you get to know Him better you will learn that you can really identify with God in many ways. Getting to know Him is like getting to know an earthly friend. So, start getting to know Him today! He wants to have a close, intimate relationship with you. Read His Word; it’s the best way to learn more about Him. If you know Jesus, you will know the Father!

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Thursday, December 11 2014

Verse of the Day

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. [Romans 1:28 – NIV]

Paul certainly hit the nail on the head in Romans. He really tells it like it is. The evil one may be able to portray the secular world as an attractive and desirable alternative to following God’s ways, but appealing to our base instincts really is self-defeating in the end. As we grow up, we are brainwashed into believing that the world has so much to offer us, but does it? On closer examination, it’s really an evil, vile, detestable place; dark and evil.

The tragedy is that as Paul says, the lost “know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” They really need to hear the Good News! Let’s make sure that we share Jesus with all we meet today!

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Wednesday, December 10 2014

Verse of the Day

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” [Colossians 3:23 – NIV]

We are inundated nowadays with the view that our “exercise of religion” is limited to worship services on Sunday and that our religious beliefs and convictions have no relevance or place in our lives on the other days of the week. Don’t allow yourselves to be brainwashed into believing that your faith has no place at home, at work, or anywhere else that you may find yourself during the week.

The secular world is waging war on religion, especially Christianity. Of course, despite what you may hear on cable news or read in the newspapers, this is not exactly breaking news. It’s been going on for years; sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes not. It’s important, in fact critical, for Believers to resist this message.

As today’s passage reminds us, we work for God. He’s our Boss. So don’t leave your Bible at home when you go to work, but take His Word with you. Every aspect of your life, the decisions you make, your relationships, how you behave—all of it is based on your relationship with God. We don’t have two sets of rules in life. God’s Word is the only thing that matters in our lives. His rules are the ones that we should live by every day of the week!

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Tuesday, December 09 2014

Verse of the Day

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:33-34 – NIV]

Businesses in America are always going through changes. There are mergers, acquisitions, downsizings, and other realignments. Many of you are facing a “life-changing” event. Some of you are losing your jobs. Some of you are moving forward with different companies. And others are virtually unaffected.

For those that are facing change, God has one thing to say to you: He will provide. You can take comfort in His Word. Trust in Him and He will provide. Change in corporate America is not an uncommon thing. Acquisitions are really not a bad thing, and you will be amazed at the future that is in store for you. Just wait for six months or so and you’ll see. And for those of you who are losing your jobs, believe me, God will provide new opportunities for you. Who knows? You may find your dream job, but regardless, He will provide.

The key is to trust and obey. Remember—don’t worry about tomorrow!

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Monday, December 08 2014

Verse of the Day

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” [Micah 5:2 – NIV]

“O little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie…” So begins the first stanza of one of the best loved Christmas hymns ever written and one of my favorites, too! Part of my affection for it is based on my growing up in Bethlehem, PA, the “Christmas City,” but that’s certainly not the only reason for my fondness. There is something about the birth of the Christ Child that touches all of us. His humble birth in Bethlehem is a very compelling story.

So why in the world did God pick Bethlehem as His Son’s birthplace? After all, one would expect that the Son of God would be born in a city of significance, Jerusalem for example, and not a little town that nobody paid much attention to. Today’s passage makes clear that Bethlehem was indeed chosen by God to be the birthplace of His Son. Bethlehem was the city of David, and it was foretold that the Christ would be of the lineage of King David. Jesus, like his ancestor, David, came to earth as a humble servant. A humble birth was only appropriate for Him.

Although Jesus made clear that He was God’s Son, He never used the title “Son of God.” Instead He preferred to use “Son of Man” so as to identify Himself with us. The Messiah came to be a servant. He was humble, caring, loving, kind, compassionate, and full of grace. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. What better place than Bethlehem for His birth? Let’s prepare for Him in our hearts as we celebrate this Advent season.

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Friday, December 05 2014

Verse of the Day

“…when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” [Luke 14:13-14 –NIV]

Although I was never a party animal, I have always enjoyed getting together with friends and having a good time. Sharon and I have occasional dinner parties, but we’ve never hosted a banquet; however, it does sound like a fun thing to do so maybe I’ll give it a shot someday.

Turning to today’s passage, the fact that I’m not ready to open our home to hundreds of people doesn’t mean that I get a pass from helping the poor and needy. At first blush, it would seem that Jesus’ point wasn’t merely the venue in which we meet the needs of the poor; it was about the nature or condition of our hearts as we reach out to them. Are we servants? Are we ready to do our part to help those less fortunate? Most of us can answer yes to these questions. We serve in homeless shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens, and we give financially to help the poor, but there is something more about this passage that bears mentioning.

The setting or location of the banquet in today’s passage really is significant; in fact it’s the key to the passage, and here’s why: When we volunteer at a homeless shelter we spend a few hours on a weekend helping some poor, down-and-out people get back on their feet. We share the Good News with them, we talk and laugh and sometimes we cry, but then we leave and return to our comfortable, cozy homes. What does that say about how we really feel about the poor and needy? Turn now to the banquet. When you throw a banquet you usually do so to honor the quests. You invite them into your home, you entertain them and feed them, and you show them honor and respect. I think that is what Jesus is saying here. It’s not enough to just care for the poor; it’s how you do it. Do you really care for those around you? Do you treat them with honor and respect? That’s the type of behavior that will ensure that you get “repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Thanks be to Jesus for showing us the Way! He is the Truth and the Light!

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Thursday, December 04 2014

Verse of the Day

Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” [Matthew 9:10-13 – NKJV]

The Pharisees were Jesus’s favorite target because they just didn’t get the point. They had deluded themselves (probably with a lot of help from Satan) into believing that it was enough just to keep the Law while forgetting why they were doing so. The purpose of the Law was to provide a means of covering sin so that God’s people could have a relationship with Him. The Law was about God, and when you take God out of the equation it becomes meaningless. The Pharisees had long forgotten the purpose of the Law. They were far more concerned with themselves than they were with God.

Then, Jesus entered the picture. I just love His response to the Pharisees in today’s passage, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” The Pharisees just didn’t get it; Jesus “did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” The message of salvation needs to be shared with everyone.

When we hear Jesus railing against the Pharisees we have a tendency to get all worked up about the righteous around us today, those who have placed religiosity above all else. You know, those who are too “churchy,” too full of themselves. We never focus inward, but we should. Don’t all of us have a tendency to think that we get it, that we are following the program? Guard against this kind of attitude. We are just as susceptible to falling into the trap of thinking that we are special and others aren’t. Who are your neighbors? Are there people that you shun? Do you share God’s Word with those who need to hear it or only those who already have? Again, who is your neighbor?

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Wednesday, December 03 2014

Verse of the Day

“…let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” [Exodus 25:8-9 – NKJV]

We have an intuitive nature that allows us to devise strategies to get things done. Some of us are better at planning than others, but it is an attribute that can be learned and developed. It’s a key part of your skill set at work. Every employer values employees who can strategize and plan; after all, that’s how we get things done in life, isn’t it? And here’s a comforting thought: No matter the level of your “planning IQ” there is hope for you. All you have to do is read the greatest book on management and business ever written, the Bible.

As today’s passage tells us, God is a planner; in fact, He is the Master Planner! He has an ultimate Plan for mankind which is revealed in His Word, a plan for each of us, and a myriad of other plans that thread their way throughout space and time.

If you want to learn more about planning, read the Bible. Focus on how God gets things done. There are tasks that God reserves for Himself like Creation and there are projects that He uses His people to accomplish like building the Tabernacle. Regardless, there is much for us to learn.

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Tuesday, December 02 2014

Verse of the Day

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” [John 11:47-48 – NIV]

The audacity! The people were beginning to believe in Jesus. Just imagine what would happen to the religious rulers of the day if belief in Jesus got out of control? They were concerned about the Romans taking away “our temple and our nation.” Funny, I thought it was God’s temple and God’s nation, but then what do I know? When the institution of religion becomes more important than its objective—worshiping and glorifying the Lord our God—then we’ve strayed way off course. God had absolutely nothing to do with the religious practices of the day. And that is exactly the point of so many of Jesus’s parables.

The old adage “The more things change the more they stay the same” is no doubt true. Things don’t change much, do they?  The tendency to look out for “number one” is as prevalent today as it was in Jesus’s day. We are just as concerned about “turf” as the Sanhedrin was. What’s “ours is ours” and we’re going to fight to keep it to the bitter end. What kind of attitude is this? It’s certainly not one that we need in our lives. What’s ours is really God’s and we are His stewards. If we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves then we will use what God has given us to bring glory to Him. Let’s make sure that we look out for the real Number One, Jesus Christ! Make Him first in your life today.

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Monday, December 01 2014

Verse of the Day

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. [Isaiah 7:14 – NKJV]

The Old Testament is strewn with references to Jesus’ birth, His life, and His death from the first book to the last. The messianic prophesy is very compelling. It really is hard for us as mere mortals to grasp or comprehend the fact that God came to earth to live with us. Just imagine Immanuel, God with us! And He wasn’t just with us, He was one of us! Amazing, isn’t it?

And so this Advent season as we prepare our hearts for the birth of our Lord, let’s never forget that He came to earth to live with us. O come, o come, Immanuel!

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