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Hear a final word of encouragement as Lead Pastor, Dean Fulks give an update on MOVE 3|2|1.

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We Trust You

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Week 4 of Lifepoints weekly MOVE Prayer Guide.

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Treasure Principle

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Week 3 of Lifepoints weekly MOVE Prayer Guide.

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One Pager

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Christmas Devotionals – 12/25

By Adam Pursel

Jesus is the Best Gift Ever

This devotion is designed with the hope that it will help you and your family focus your hearts and minds on Jesus. You’ll notice that it is broken down by stage of life.  You will see an option for pre-school & school age and one for people who are 6th grade and older. May you find extraordinary joy in Jesus Christ our Lord, today and always.  
 
Pre-school and School Age:
Introduce the idea by starting a conversation
  1. Gather your child(ren) and engage them in a conversation about their favorite gifts.  “What is your favorite gift from this Christmas (either anticipated or already opened)?”
  2. Next, ask them, “Why is that gift your favorite?” and then, “How long do you think this gift will be your favorite thing to play with?” “What is something you were hoping for that you didn’t get?” [What you’re looking for here are things you can connect or contrast with Jesus, because Jesus is the best gift ever.]
Transition to the teaching point
Did you guys know that there’s another Christmas present that’s even better than [the stuff they just talked about]? This present will never grow old, it will never wear out, and you can have it forever and ever.  It’s the best present ever!!! 
 
Do you think you know what it is?
 
That’s right! (or maybe not, if they didn’t quite get to Jesus. Jesus is the best gift ever!  
 
Ask them: “Why do you think Jesus is the best gift ever?”
 
You’re looking for…
Jesus is the best gift ever because…
  1. He is God
  2. He loves us
  3. He died on the cross so that all our sins could be forgiven
  4. He rose from the dead
  5. And we get to live with Him forever…and that will be the best!!!
Conclusion
“Let’s pray and thank God for giving us the best gift ever – His Son, Jesus.  What are some things you want to thank God for?”
[Take prayer requests and take a few moments to pray with your family.  Make sure to include thanks to God for the gift of His Son – the best gift ever!]
 
Relevant Scriptures…
John 4:10
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
 
John 3:16-21

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

6th Grade and Up:
 
Introduce the idea by starting a conversation
  1. Reflect on and discuss (where relevant) some of your favorite Christmas gifts, past and present.  
  2. Why did you like those gifts so much? Why do they stand out from the rest? 
Transition to the Scripture
[If you’re doing this with friends and family, take a few moments for each person to read this silently, or read this aloud to the group.]
 
Read John 4:1-15
Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John2(although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

[Devotional Thoughts – personal reading and reflection for before discussion]

There’s a great deal worth considering from this text.  But I would like us to focus our attention on John 4:9-15, particularly 4:10.  The Samaritan woman is confused as to why Jesus would be willing to cross so many social boundaries in order to speak with her.  “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me?”  And Jesus responds, “If you knew the gift of God…”  
 
Let’s pause there for a moment.  Do you know the gift of God? Jesus is His name!  He is the gift of the Father and was sent to redeem us from our sin.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He offers us living water that becomes in us a spring of water that wells up to eternal life.  Do you know Him?  He is the one who was in the beginning with God and was God.  All things were created by Him and for Him*.  He did not come to judge us, but came that we might have eternal life*.  He came so that we might have life – life abundant*!  His steadfast love reaches to the heavens and His faithfulness to the clouds! His love is precious.  He invites us to feast on the abundance of His house, to drink from the river of His delights*!  Do you know Him?
If you knew the gift of God, you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.  Do you know Him?
Let us remember this Christmas morning that Jesus is the best gift ever.  He is the gift of God, and He invites us to know Him.  He alone offers us salvation and everlasting joy in His presence.
 
To conclude this devotion, take a few minutes to reflect on Psalm 36:5-9.  Consider how these verses relate to God’s goodness expressed to us in the gift of His Son, Jesus.
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, 
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! 
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.
– Psalm 36:5-9 (ESV)
[Discussion Questions]
Share a time in your life when you knew that Jesus truly was the gift of God.  Perhaps it’s your conversion story.  Perhaps what comes to mind is another time in your life when God revealed His goodness to you powerfully.
What are some of the challenges you have in your life to more consistently seeing and experiencing Jesus as “the best gift ever?”
As you celebrate Christmas and look forward to the New Year, take a few moments to brainstorm some ideas for the coming year.  What are some things you can do (or stop doing) in order to grow more in your love and enjoyment of Jesus?  Are you willing to commit to those things?
*Check out for further study…

Christmas Devotionals – 12/24

By Josh Baker
Luke 2:15-21

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
– Luke 2:15–21 (ESV)
 
Have you ever found yourself wondering what in the world God’s plan is for a certain situation in your life? As time goes on you see bits and pieces of His plan revealed to you, but it’s not until years later, or maybe on the other side of eternity, that you can look back and see how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. That’s where Mary was the night Jesus was born.
 
Can you imagine her confusion? An angel of the Lord appears to her and tells her she is going to give birth to the savior of the world. Her soon-to-be husband finds out she is pregnant and wants to “break-up”, but an angel of the Lord speaks to him and tells him to chill out because she was telling the truth. Then days before Jesus is to be born you have to haul your super-pregnant self 80 – 100 miles on a donkey so your husband (but not the father of your son) can sign a census. While there, you go into labor and there is no suitable place available for you to give birth. So you give birth to the Messiah in a place that’s the equivalent of a dirty truck stop and you wrap your new born baby in rags and place Him in a feeding trough.
 
You would think that the God of the Universe, the one who spoke all things in to being, would have a better delivery plan for the birth of His Son than this.
 
Then, after you have given birth and look and smell like a hot mess, three random dudes show up in your make-shift delivery room. But then these shepherds start to speak, and they tell you what the Lord had shown them and told them. In that moment, God revealed another piece of the puzzle to you, and you hold on to it. That’s what the word “treasure” in verse 19 means, “To hold or to keep.” Mary couldn’t see the big picture of what God was working, but she saw the pieces He was putting together and she treasured them and pondered them.
 
Sometimes God doesn’t reveal the big picture of His plan right away, but only gives us bits and pieces over time. Just like a good puzzle, when you can’t find a spot for a piece you don’t throw it away, you hold on to it and treasure it. You question how it fits into the bigger picture. This process can be frustrating and even painful because we can’t understand why a certain piece is even there. But one day, when the puzzle is more complete, you’ll see where those treasured pieces find their place. You’ll see the bigger picture and it is beautiful. Hold on to those pieces. Treasure them. Question them. And see how they fit over time.
 
What pieces of your life’s puzzle has God given you to treasure lately?

Christmas Devotionals – 12/23

By Nick Zarley
Luke 2:8-14

Questions swirl in the minds of expectant parents as they decide what the name should be, whether or not to find out the gender of the baby, and of course the best brand of diapers to purchase. Despite where you stand on any of these issues the one constant is the indescribable joy experienced by families and friends as they greet the new child for the first time. Once the baby has arrived there is typically a roll out plan for how the news will be shared.

     Step 1 – Take picture

     Step 2 – Post on social media

The roll out plan for the birth of Jesus involved angels visiting shepherds in a nearby field… pretty good chance of it going viral if you incorporate a heavenly host. The angels said to them, ““Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy…” This birth announcement is unlike any other in that the fullness of God was dwelling within this tiny babe in the manger. When you visit this child, you are seeing Immanuel, God with us. Truly, good news of great joy! But this joy was not intended only for family, friends and nearby shepherds. This good news of great joy was for all the people for all time. For today, in the town of David a Savior has been born, he is Christ the Lord.

Christmas Devotionals – 12/22

By Bryan Broyles
Luke 2:1-7

Many times we speak of God’s sovereignty. We use this word sovereign often but how often do we live our lives as if we truly believe this?  What would be the difference in your life if it was lived with an unwavering belief in God’s sovereignty?  That God is in control and will accomplish his will?  Scripture describes God as creator, being above all others…that’s sovereignty.  We see evidence of God’s sovereignty all throughout scripture, his hands on involvement in the lives of people and the rise and fall of governments and nations.
 
Consider what we read in Luke chapter 2.  The most powerful man in the world at that time, Caesar Augustus, Emperor of Rome, issued a decree demanding that everyone travel to their hometown for a census (likely to be used as a registration for taxing purposes).  We see God’s sovereign providence working through Augustus and his decree to move Mary and Joseph out of Nazareth and down to Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecy of Micah (Micah 5:2). The sovereign decree and plan of God was here being minutely worked out in history with the most unique set of historical circumstances being brought together, to bring God’s own Son into the world according to prophecy and to set events into motion to accomplish his plan for our salvation.
 
God has the capacity and the capability to accomplish his will in all things.  When we come to grips with that promise, we can find incredible comfort, no matter what he chooses to allow, even when it’s most difficult.  The God who loves you – loves you enough to send his Son to die in your place, to forgive your sins, to have a personal relationship with you – is in control.  He was on the throne yesterday, today, and will be tomorrow.  Submitting to this should help develop an unshakeable confidence to know that even when life is hard, God has guaranteed to work every detail for your good and his Glory.

Christmas Devotionals – 12/21

By Bruce Hull
Luke 1:67-80

Christmas. The mere word brings excitement and joy to people all over the world. Christmas invokes thoughts of family, love, good food, snow days, and memories of our childhood. Christmas is the time of year where we can enjoy giving gifts to loved ones or receive things that make us smile from ear to ear. With such a fast paced world and marketing to make you think of only yourself, sometimes we can forget the true meaning of what this special day truly resembles.
 
Pee Wee Herman defines the meaning of Christmas as the celebration of a little boy’s birthday, Jesus Christ of course. But it’s so much more than that. The birth of Christ was God’s solution to his only problem (if we may title it so). The issue was that if he is so absolutely perfect, then a sinner could never enter his holy presence, at least not without someone to redeem us. In Luke 1:67-80, we find a man who has been silenced for the entirety of his wife’s pregnancy for his disbelief in the angel Gabriel’s message. He has now placed his faith in God by naming the child John as God had commanded. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he begins to sing a song prophesying about the coming of Jesus. He sings that Jesus will redeem us, he will free us from our enemies, and that his son John will pave the way for the man bringing our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins.
You see, Christmas is not about simply celebrating a birthday. Christmas is about celebrating the fact that there truly is a God who loves us. A god who loves you so much he stepped down off his heavenly throne to die on the cross and conquer death in order to pay for your debt so that you could be made righteous and stand with God in heaven. Christmas is the story of God’s love and his incredible mercy on the undeserving. As we approach this season, remember that underserving mercy and grace we receive, thank God for it and pray that he uses you to show that love to someone else who you may feel is undeserving.  Or maybe this is the first you have heard of God’s love for you. Tell God you acknowledge that you’re a sinner, and that you need him in your life. Whoever you are, never forget that Christmas is the reminder that you have a Heavenly Father who wants nothing more than to love you, for your sins have been paid for through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Christmas Devotionals – 12/20

By Marc Lyons
Luke 1:57-66

When Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, the Bible says Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed that Mary was blessed because she believed God would be faithful and true to His word. What a warm welcome! Mary’s immediate response was to worship God. She began pouring out praises to the Lord, extolling Him then and there in thankful remembrance, humbly and rightly acknowledging His mercy and might.
 
A lot of Mary’s hymn is quoted Scripture (check out Hannah’s song of praise in 1 Samuel 2:1-10!). This young girl, who had just made her first road trip as a teen mom, had hidden God’s Word deep into her heart. She believed, absorbed, meditated on, pondered, and rehearsed it. And now her answer to God’s words of blessing was to say back to Him what had already been said about Him long before!
 
Our only right response to God’s favor is to worship Him with our whole hearts. And anyone who has called on Jesus’ Name and received His life and forgiveness has been blessed by the gift of the Holy Spirit! Sometimes we need to take steps back and remember, like Mary did, who God is and what He’s done, and respond by showering Him with thankful praise. There’s always reason to glorify His Name!
 
So, what’s keeping us from magnifying and exalting the Lord? Is it certain ideas or expectations of what worship is? Is it a wrong definition? Is it misplaced attention or perspective? Worship isn’t just singing (Romans 12:1), but it does include praising. Try praising Him in a setting other than a Sunday service. Pray aloud or sing Scripture back to Him. It’s powerful – His Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12)! He delights in our worship of Him, and He doesn’t need a crowd around us to receive our praise!

Christmas Devotionals – 12/19

By Tiffani Hoover
Luke 1:46-56

When Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, the Bible says Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed that Mary was blessed because she believed God would be faithful and true to His word. What a warm welcome! Mary’s immediate response was to worship God. She began pouring out praises to the Lord, extolling Him then and there in thankful remembrance, humbly and rightly acknowledging His mercy and might.
A lot of Mary’s hymn is quoted Scripture (check out Hannah’s song of praise in 1 Samuel 2:1-10!). This young girl, who had just made her first road trip as a teen mom, had hidden God’s Word deep into her heart. She believed, absorbed, meditated on, pondered, and rehearsed it. And now her answer to God’s words of blessing was to say back to Him what had already been said about Him long before!
 
Our only right response to God’s favor is to worship Him with our whole hearts. And anyone who has called on Jesus’ Name and received His life and forgiveness has been blessed by the gift of the Holy Spirit! Sometimes we need to take steps back and remember, like Mary did, who God is and what He’s done, and respond by showering Him with thankful praise. There’s always reason to glorify His Name!
 
So, what’s keeping us from magnifying and exalting the Lord? Is it certain ideas or expectations of what worship is? Is it a wrong definition? Is it misplaced attention or perspective? Worship isn’t just singing (Romans 12:1), but it does include praising. Try praising Him in a setting other than a Sunday service. Pray aloud or sing Scripture back to Him. It’s powerful – His Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12)! He delights in our worship of Him, and He doesn’t need a crowd around us to receive our praise!

Christmas Devotionals – 12/18

By Tiffani Hoover
Luke 1:39-45


God had just called Mary to the incredible task of bearing the Messiah and living out her days marked by controversy. When Mary said “yes” to God, she answered His call with all the unknowns and obstacles that would also come. But in His goodness and wisdom, God prepared a sojourner for Mary: her older cousin, Elizabeth.
Strong, faithful, tender-hearted Elizabeth welcomed Mary with rejoicing and encouragement. The older, who had waited her whole life to become a mother, to whom disappointment was familiar company, and to whom stigma and shame had taunted for long years, welcomed her young, unmarried, pregnant cousin.
I love the strength and confidence the Lord gave Elizabeth – in who He was and how He was working, not in anything she had done. It allowed her to delight in God’s kindness toward both herself and Mary, though shown in different ways and unequal measure. Elizabeth did not fall prey to jealousy or entitlement, but chose to rejoice in the Lord and celebrate with and for Mary.
Elizabeth and Mary’s humility and vulnerability allowed them to minister to each other, and be ministered to. Neither withheld encouragement, companionship, nor their ability to listen and relate. And so the cousins were mutually strengthened, affirmed, and supported.
Since God is the giver of all good gifts (James 1:17), we can rest in who we are because of Who He is. When others receive or excel, we can joyfully celebrate with them. And we can confidently offer to Him and those around us what we have indeed been given, whether extraordinary or simple or common. Let’s choose to rejoice with others this season, even in their undeserved favor, for we have all been shown great mercy! And let’s choose to gladly offer even the simplest gifts we have to offer, as the Lord has wisely equipped us with.

Christmas Devotionals – 12/17

By Jason Phillips
Luke 1:26-38


In this passage, we find Mary in a very precarious position. Gabriel tells Mary, a virgin, that she will conceive a child who will be God in the flesh and rule the world for eternity. While shocking, what might be even more surprising is Mary’s response to his proclamation. She simply says “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
 
Mary’s decision would likely call her character into question and severely complicate her life, but that’s not what she was concerned about. Mary understood that she could not choose to be obedient based on possible life repercussions. She knew there would be negative reactions and questions, but they were of no importance compared to her desire to be obedient to God.
 
When we look at the life of Jesus, this idea is perfected. Jesus obediently left His heavenly home to be humbly born in a manger. He was tempted and tried, but did not sin. In the end, He sacrificially gave His life on the cross as a ransom for many. None of this sounds ideal for our precious Savior, but He valued His obedience to the Father over His comfort.
 
As we look toward Christmas day, let us not forget the obedience of Mary and Jesus. God probably isn’t asking you to carry His Son or sacrificially die, but he WILL ask us to respond in obedience in other ways this holiday season. It might be to go out of your way to serve your difficult-to-love family. It might be to forgive someone who has wronged you. It might be to donate your time or money to a local charity. So, what is it for you? Take time today to ask God how you can respond in obedience to His Word, regardless of the cost.

Christmas Devotionals – 12/16

By Ben Howes
Rev. 21:1-6


It’s interesting how Christmas falls at the end of the year.  In many ways it’s a reset button in preparation for the new year.  Christmas is a time when people tend to be a little more giving, more understanding, more helpful and more hopeful.  The new year lies before us untouched like a layer of freshly fallen snow.  We project our dreams (and resolutions) upon this future with the hope that we may be bettered by what lies ahead.  Ultimately, Christmas is a time when divinity takes the form of humanity and a new paradigm is set for man’s relationship with God… Emmanuel, God with us.  Today’s passage talks about a time when man will be with God. 

On the Isle of Patmos, John looks prophetically into the future and sees “a new heaven and a new earth”.  He hears a voice declaring “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”  We’re immediately struck with a parallel between the Christmas story and this future revelation.  However, this time God isn’t coming to earth in the form of an infant.  It can be implied from the text that the essence of the Godhead… Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will be working together to “make all things new”, eliminating tears and pain and mourning and even death.  The paradigm will shift again and all things will be made new once and for all.
 
This passage is a beacon of hope in times like our own.  It’s easy to cast an unsettled glance at the world today with all of its fears, anxieties, antagonists, and darkness.  It can often seem overwhelming following along with the news or getting lost in the endless social media back-and-forth.  It’s in times like these that this passage is especially hopeful.  The world has always been broken and it will always be broken until it is made new.  In Jesus we have assurance that our brokenness will be made new and our souls will be at peace with God.  Imagine that feeling of newness and peace extrapolated to the entire world.  Every tribe, every tongue, and every people (yes, even Michiganders) will join together to worship our great God.  Weapons will be beat into plowshares.  The lion will lay down with the lamb.  The promise of Christmas will be kept.
 
In the mean time, it is up to us to carry His truth and seek first His Kingdom.  The world needs the hope and joy of Jesus now more than ever and when we lift Him up from the earth He will draw all people to Himself.  So to summarize, don’t lose hope and don’t stop preparing the way of the Lord.  We can, like John, look into the future and see redemption rather than ruin.  Our Savior has been born, He has died, He has risen, He has won, and He is making all things new.

Christmas Devotionals – 12/15

By Kristy Low
Acts 1:4-12

“… he [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father…”

Imagine yourself in this scene for just a moment. Being reunited with the resurrected Immanuel, God with us, after having watched him suffer and die on the cross. Having mourned what you would have thought to be the loss of the One promised to save. Having then rejoiced in His glorious return – once again being able to sit at His feet, to touch His hands, to hear His voice. I imagine that if I were there, I would have hung onto every word that He spoke, never wanting to let Him out my sight again.
 
I wonder if I would have understood when He spoke of the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Probably not. I’m sure I would have urged Him with the others to restore the kingdom at that time, hoping that the time was now. I’m sure I would have been baffled by His response, a response that beckoned His followers to once again wait. A response that pointed to the sovereignty and authority of the Father, the promise of a powerful Helper and then the mandate to those who loved Him to be His witnesses throughout the ends of the earth. I imagine that I would have then stood in disbelief, mouth agape, as He was then lifted up, a cloud taking Him out of my sight again. I wonder if I would have been able to fight back the sense of panic? It’s no wonder that in the verses to follow the disciples are said to have gathered in one accord, devoting themselves to prayer. Crying out to the God they loved.
 
I wonder if peace would have settled as I prayed and waited as instructed, remembering that Jesus had spoken of what must happen before. In John 16, Jesus said “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)
 
I’m sure that they had no idea the life-altering gravity of the gift that was to come. That the same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead would come to reside within all who believed. That God would soon initiate the most personal way He would speak to those He loved, how He still speaks to us today – directly through the indwelling, intimate, incredible gift of His Spirit working hand in hand with the timeless, holy Word of God. Be encouraged by the beautiful reality of the One who empowers, equips, transforms and send us out!

Christmas Devotionals – 12/14

By Sam Beaumier
1 Corinthians 15:1-11


Grace—our faith is founded upon it. We hinge all bets on grace—hanging the framework of Christianity on the grace and love of Jesus on the cross. I love how Paul unpacks the concept of grace through his letter to the Corinthians. He sets a stage Christians are familiar with: Jesus died, was buried and rose again. End of the story, right? We’ve heard it thousands of times from preachers, our parents, our friends, our schools, etc.
 
However, Paul makes a distinction here that cracks things open for me: he walks us through whom Jesus appeared to after rising from the dead. We are guided along this trajectory as Jesus appears to the Apostles, the twelve men He spent His life investing into. Jesus ate with, wept with and poured all He could into them. Next, He appears to “500 brothers” or believers. 500 people whose hearts were captivated with belief in Jesus as Christ. Finally, Jesus appeared to Paul, “the least of the apostles”.
 
Let that sink in—that’s us.
 
We were late to the party, outside in the cold. Yet, independent of our doing, despite the darkness in our lives, Jesus sweeps in and shows Himself to us. Like Paul, we were selfishly zealous before Jesus, but after seeing Him our hearts are ablaze with wonder. The fact that we had nothing to do with Him showing up is both humbling and invigorating. That’s the beauty of grace—it arrives when we least expect it, because it’s enacted in the moments we deserve it the least. In the midst of our brokenness, Jesus shed his majesty for human humility that we might see Him. If that is not worth celebrating this holiday season, I’m not sure what else is.

Christmas Devotionals – 12/13

By Adam Wallace

Colossians 1:15-20

“…and through him to reconcile to himself all things.”
 
What understanding do you have of the restoration of your soul to God? Reconciliation was His plan from the beginning. Christmas is the full essence of God revealed in the birth of the preeminent Christ. It is the image of the invisible deity inserted into the brokenness of humanity to bring peace. Is this reality in your heart? If this season is to have any meaning beyond the festivities, you must accept the authority of Jesus, letting Him consume every emotion, thought, word, and deed. When the rush of the holidays begins to overwhelm, know that Christ is supreme. As the stress of managing schedules to get here and there becomes too much, rest in Him. See to it that the creator of all things engulfs your heart, for this is why you were made through Him and for Him, that every last ounce of your soul may be reconciled.
 
Father, let my soul find refreshment in the fullness of Jesus today. Fix my thoughts on your supremacy. Tune my heart to the miracle of Christmas, that I may know your unbelievable love demonstrated in the birth of your son. Amen.

Christmas Devotionals – 12/12

By Kristyn Premuda
Philippians 2:4-11

Checklists are my friend.  I love knowing exactly what I need to do or how to do it.  Christmas is a season for lots of lists.  Lists of things to do and buy and lists of ways we can serve someone.  It seems like Christmastime brings out the serving and caring nature of people.  It’s so easy to find a way to give to those in need or find a family who could use an extra hand.  Even as parents we preach to our kids (with a raised eyebrow hoping to create more impact) that “Christmas is about giving and not receiving.”

It’s easy for me to get caught up in it all.  I love to give.  It brings me joy.  BUT, do I just want to mark something off my checklist or does it come from a heart compelled by love for others?  Do I have a heart like Jesus?  Oh, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do extra at Christmas… but what about in July when things in life get really crazy and hectic?  Am I just as motivated on those days?

Paul says that our attitude should be the same as that of Jesus.  The love in His heart was so great for us, that Jesus put our greatest need above all else and showed us the single greatest act of giving by paying for our debt on the cross.  Jesus embodies humility and not just on certain occasions.  It’s at the core of who He is.  God sent His only son to die on the cross for our sins because He knows that we are lost without Him.  And He raised Jesus up to bring life and love to those in desperate need of a Savior.

So what would my life look like if I realized that I am the one in need?  What would it look like if I realized that what was compelling me to serve and give was a heart changed by my Savior’s love and wanting to become more like Him each and every day?  And what if that wasn’t just at Christmas and not just based on a checklist?
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for son, Jesus, who became a servant because He knew just how great our need was.  And may my deepest desire be to pour into others, not just at Christmas but every single day.

Christmas Devotionals – 12/11

By Suheily Maldonado
Ephesians 1:3-10
 
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. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both[a] which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him
 
The verses above are the consequences of our Savior’s birth and a beautiful reminder of God’s promises for us through Christ Jesus. It is easy to get caught up in the hype of the materialistic part of Christmas. What gifts to buy, who gets what, and in our flesh, we often think, “I really hope I get something I love”. But one must not dwell on what we are getting; the real treasure lies on what we already have. The birth of a savior that would come to redeem us and love us in ways a pair of $50 jeans can’t. Whatever gifts we get, good and bad are just extra compared to that magnificent gift that was born in a manger some two thousand years ago. So if you happen to find yourself overwhelmed this holiday season for one reason or another, just remember to dwell in the glory of His grace and remember, Christmas is about celebrating what we already have, not what we are getting.

Christmas Devotionals – 12/10

By John Regalsky
Hebrews 1:1-4
 
When reading this passage, verse two jumped out at me: ‘but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world.’ Most recently, our family built a firepit in our back yard. On a recent, crisp evening, my wife, our two kids and I sat under a clear sky, which was a rarity within the city. The Lord provided Jenny and I a precious opportunity for us to go through the entire alphabet with JD and Evie to shout out characteristics of God. ‘Awesome, Bread of life, Creator, etc…’ In a world so small in comparison with our vast universe, yet so significant, God loved us so much to send His Son, Jesus, as a humble, servant King to sacrifice Himself for us and our mistakes – past, present and future. I’m at awe thinking about how through Jesus, God created everything (Col 1:16). And if He knows and governs the laws of the universe, I am reminded to surrender to Him daily, every area of my life, for He is ultimately in control.
 
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Christmas Devotionals – 12/09

By Steve Clifton
Isaiah 60-61
 
Sing it with me!  “Ri-ise, and shi-ine and give God the glory, glory!”
 
As a kid who grew up in Sunday School, I tend to associate several scriptures with worship songs we learned and sang together many many times.
 
In today’s passage that begins with this song, Isaiah is foretelling the coming of the Messiah and is praising God for His plan for salvation!  In 60:6, Isaiah foretells that “They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD.”
 
I don’t know about you, but when I look back on my childhood, in addition to the Rolodex of worship songs ingrained in my mind, my memories of Christmas and the month leading up to it didn’t revolve around me or my family bringing gifts to Jesus, my Messiah who has come, it was about me getting gifts.  Today’s society makes it even harder to direct the thoughts of our families and the direction of the glory that we give in this season to Jesus.
 
Talk with your family about how we can “bring gifts to Jesus” this Christmas season. Can you do that by loving the “least of these” and serving others where you live in some way?  Can you invite someone to come to church with you to celebrate His coming?  Consider bringing Him gifts even today by giving Him glory through worship as you sing this song together!
 
(If you don’t know the melody, give me a call I will sing it for you….seriously I will)
 
Rise, and shine and give God the glory, glory!
Rise, and shine and give God the glory, glory!
Rise. and. shine. and. Give God the Glory, Glory, children of the Lord!
 
P.S. – wouldn’t it be great if we all got up on Christmas morning and sang this?!

 

Christmas Devotionals – 12/08

By Nathan Shireman
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
 
If you would ask me to refer to one of the most difficult passages of scripture, I would point you to this passage in Isaiah. As a Christian, it’s difficult for me to come face to face with what I put Jesus through. Words like “beaten”, “slaughtered”, “marred”, “disfigured”, these are words that typically you find in a horror movie or documentary on a gruesome war, not words for our King, our Friend, our Saviour.  Yet there they are, and there He hung, on a cross, bleeding, dying, and taking on the weight of our sin,  with so much love for the very people who put him there.  My mind and heart cannot truly comprehend this act of obedience, this act of pure love.
 
 
We want Christmas to be magical, full of good tidings, beautiful sights and sounds, and the smells of warm cookies baking and freshly cut trees.  And while this imagery is all amazingly great to have at the forefront of our minds, let us not forget that with every beginning there is a middle, and an end.  And what happened beyond that first Christmas day may not be easy to think about, but we need to remember it, because what it reminds us of is how deep the love of our Father is, and the true might of our King, as we know He conquered death and dealt the crushing blow to sin. There is no greater gift that you could ever receive, than the Gift that God gave on Calvary.

 

Christmas Devotionals – 12/07

By Denise Steele
 
Read Isaiah 52:1-12
 
 
Wake up!  Wake up!  Have you ever been startled out of sleep before?  It can feel like you are in a fog or a dream but suddenly you have to pay attention with every faculty to focus on the situation at hand.  I sometimes notice the spiritual “fog” creeping in when my time with the Lord keeps falling out of habit.  I almost need someone to come along and shake me – to say “Wake up!”
 
This wake-up call is what starts our passage today.  Judah is the remnant of God’s chosen people that are left in the promised land; the rest of Israel has been taken captive.  But Judah is relying on alliances with Assyria and Egypt for protection.  How similar we are – to add crutches to our lives in addition to our relationship with God.   Or to let our reliance upon and time with God to be crowded out by other dependencies.
 
Re-read verses 1-10 but this time replace the words “Jerusalem”, “Zion” or “My People” with your own name.  Focus on your old identity versus your new identity in Christ.  Write down a few truths about who you are in Christ and/or a few things that you are free from because you are a “Daughter of Zion”.
 
The second double-warning in this passage is to Depart! Depart!  What did they need to depart from and why the urgency?  The call to “Depart” or to “Come out and be pure” comes after a promise.  Verses 6-10 promise that the people would know the Lord, hear the proclamation of salvation and see the Lord’s return as would the whole earth!  That is the reason for the urgency.  We and the whole earth will see the Lord’s return.
 
I want to be ready to hear this proclamation when it comes.  Just as some were ready when Christ came to earth as a baby, only some will be ready for his return.  As Christmas approaches, Isaiah 52 prepares us to “Wake Up!”, to rely only on the Lord and to be ready to “Depart!”, for soon “all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.”  (vs. 10).   Pray that you would be alert, free from the chains that enslave or extra dependencies that you have come to rely upon and thank God for His proclamation of peace, good tidings and salvation over your life.

Christmas Devotionals – 12/06

By Dani Andrews
Isaiah 9:1-7
 
In these verses Isaiah prophesied about Jesus and his kingdom, and by reading them, we can be reminded of God’s faithfulness to save his people.
 
“The people walking in darkness
  have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
  a light has dawned.”
 
Let your heart be reminded of the simple truth of the Gospel: that you were once living in deep darkness, separated from God because of your sin. But because of His great love for you, Jesus came to earth to die and be risen again to save you from your sin! He has brought you out of the darkness and into his glorious light!
 
Take a moment to remember when you first began to understand your sin and need for Jesus. What was happening in your life at that time? Let those memories move you into a prayer of thanks and rejoicing. Thank Jesus for His great mercy and love towards you! For guiding you in seeing His truth.
 
Next, read Isaiah 9:6-7.
 
“For to us a child is born,
  to us a son is given,
  and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
  there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
  and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
  with justice and righteousness
  from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
  will accomplish this. “
 
In these verses, Isaiah gives us four names describing Jesus. Reflect on those names. How has Jesus been your Wonderful Counselor? How have you seen Him as Mighty God? Everlasting Father? Prince of Peace?
 
Take another moment to pray; praise God for the specific ways in which he has revealed himself to you as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. Then ask for Him to help you learn more about Jesus and love him better each day. Finally, pray that he would continue to expand His Kingdom in your city and around the world so that other people may be saved and rejoice in the gospel too.

 

Christmas Devotionals – 12/05

By Steve Boyer
Isaiah 40:3-5
“A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. “Let every valley be lifted up,  And every mountain and hill be made low;  And let the rough ground become a plain,  And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,  And all flesh will see it together;  For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
 
This passage is the foretelling of John the Baptist. Isaiah wrote it some 700 years before John was born. How did Isaiah know that……because God had a plan.
 
Back in Gen. 3:15, we’re told that Jesus would come and someday bruise the head of Satan. How did Moses know that thousands of years before it happened…..because God had a plan.
 
When Mary was told about being the mother of Jesus she was also told that Elizabeth was pregnant with John, whom this passage refers to. How did it happen that John was going to be born in time to be the fore runner of Jesus….because God had a plan.
 
God is surprised by nothing that happens because He has a plan and, according to Job 42:2, no plan of His can be thwarted.
 
Some years ago there was a Country and Western song call “Jesus, Take the Wheel”.  Catchy title but totally untrue.  Our hands may be white knuckle gripping the wheel or we may throw them up in frustration, but there is no time when Jesus’ hands are not on the wheel. Yesterday, today and tomorrow Jesus’ hands are on the wheel because…..God has a plan.
 
And the promise of the season all those years ago is still true today, “fear not” because…..God has a plan.

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Christmas Devotionals – 12/04

By Justin Dickman
Jeremiah 33: 14-16
 
 
“The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them. In those days and at that time I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. In that day Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this name will be his name: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.”
 
 
At the time these verses were written, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was marching his army to destroy Jerusalem. Knowing that the Babylonians were coming to destroy them, it must have been difficult for the Israelites to believe God’s promise that David’s descendants would reign forever. The Babylonians destroyed the city, burned the temple, and captured all of David’s heirs. All of God’s promises probably seemed to be hollow and empty.
 
 
The Israelites must have questioned God’s faithfulness. How could this happen? God, where are you? Many times in my own walk with Jesus I have these same concerns. God, are you even paying attention? Do you care about me?
 
 
Jeremiah writes this passage of hope while he sits in a prison cell. It’s a promise that God will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. The passage says Jerusalem will be safe and the one that God raises will be our righteousness. It’s a beautiful promise. And despite the destruction the Israelites experienced at the hands of the Babylonians, eventually God fulfilled the promise laid out in this passage. Hundreds of years later, a descendant rose from King David’s line and bore the full wrath of God that we justly deserved.
 
 
God cares about us. He cares so deeply that He sacrificed His own Son so we could be reconciled with Him. When God says He will do something, He always follows through. It may not be exactly when we want it, but God’s timing is perfect and He knows exactly what we need and when we need it.

 

Christmas Devotionals – 12/03

By Jeff Huff
Genesis 12:1-4
 
 
God’s plan of redemption can be traced back to this passage in early Genesis. In the previous chapters of Genesis, readers discover that sin has caused humanity to fall to an all-time low. Genesis 12 is pivotal in that it records the calling of Abraham, and the future blessing that all the nations of the earth will be blessed by his offspring, which culminates in the coming Messiah (cf. v.3).
 
 
Undoubtedly, God is the catalyst behind the plan of salvation. He ultimately fulfilled his promise to Abraham by sending forth His one and only Son through Abraham’s offspring. Yet one of the interesting things in this passage is the command that God gave Abraham. It was to “go” … to get away from his own country into a land that God would show him. Abraham was called to leave the comforts of home behind, and to launch out into the unknown. This one single act of obedience sets the plan of God’s redemption in motion. What is it that God is calling you to do that you’ve been putting off? Reach out to a lost family member? Serve in a ministry area here at Lifepoint? Commit to a Lifegroup?
 
 
Notice that Abraham was instructed to “go” before he received God’s blessings. How many times do we desire the blessing of God up front before we obey God? Are you giving God certain conditions to meet before you step out in obedience to Him?
 
 
The passage ends with the words, “So Abram departed, as the Lord had directed him.” Could it be that it’s time to stop with the excuses and simply obey God?  Remember, you can accomplish this by stepping out into the unknown like Abraham. The scriptures say “Abraham believed God and that it (his faith) was counted unto him as righteousness.” Hopefully this holiday season will not drown out the voice of God, and like Abraham, your faith will be counted unto you as righteousness.