Devotional for December 4, 5, and 6


Playing a little catch up again. I forgot on Tuesday; Had a busy day at work yesterday, and finally home this morning. So here goes.

A Perfectly Reasonable Request
By Jon Walker

“Then I said: Woe is me, for I am ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, [and] because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5 HCSB)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

There are days when I think I’m doing pretty good in my pursuit of holiness. Other days, I find myself in the dirt, grit between my teeth, and the mud and crud of life all over my less-than-saintly face.

It makes me wonder if Peter engaged in wishful thinking when he restated God’s call from Leviticus, that we’re to be holy, just as our heavenly Father is holy (1 Peter 1:16). Yet, Ian Thomas, a sweet-spirited, obedient man of God, says this call to holiness is a perfectly reasonable request.

This is perfectly reasonable because it is God who makes us holy – not our own pursuit of holiness. Isaiah’s vision of heaven helps me to understand how this works. An angel-seraph sings out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; his glory fills the whole earth,” and Isaiah’s response is, “Woe is me, for I am ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, [and] because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts” (Isaiah 6:3,5 HCSB).

This is Isaiah, the MVP of prophets, yet as he moves into God’s holy light, he can see more clearly than ever that his righteous acts are more than filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). He says, in effect, “I am ruined; I cannot match your holiness, Lord.”

Just then, one of the angel-seraphs flies to Isaiah with a glowing hot coal from heaven’s altar. He touches it to Isaiah’s lips and says, “Now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, and your sin is atoned for” (Isaiah 6:7 HCSB).

The thing to remember today – and forever – is that God initiates the cleansing; God does it himself. He will complete the cleansing as you submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8a NIV).

So what?

· God is holy, and you can only become holy through his work in you.

· The closer you get to God, the more you’ll realize how far short of holiness you are. We all fall short of the glory of God.

· God cleanses you for a mission – “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Who should I send? Who will go for us? I said: Here I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8 HCSB).

· Not by works – Ask God to show you the place in your life where you rely on good works and not upon his grace. Ask him to help you embrace the grace (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

A Simpler Life
By Jon Walker

As we enter the Christmas season, I thought this teaching from Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” would be helpful and encouraging. – jw

“Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” (Galatians 6:4-5 NLT)

At Christmas time, we often feel like we have to get it all done, and then we crash and burn when we can’t do it all. If you want to simplify this season, you need to understand that it’s all about making choices – and then sticking to those choices, no matter how tempting it is to add more to your holiday “to do” list.

It’s easy to forget this, but it’s true: You’re the only one who must assume responsibility for your time, and you’re the only one who can clarify what’s really important to you. The choices you make control your calendar and, as a result, your lifestyle. Your choices are far more powerful than your circumstances, and you have the power to simplify your life by making purpose-full choices.

The Bible teaches, “We are each responsible for our own conduct.” (Galatians 6:4-5 NLT) That’s why it’s so important to discover why God placed you on this planet: What is your purpose for being here?

In the long run, the donation of your life will count far more than the duration. In other words, it’s not how long you live – or even how much you cram into the length of your life – it’s about how you live, according to God’s purpose for you.

What now?

· Let your purpose guide what you do this Christmas season. As you serve, serve where you know God intends for you to serve. Don’t just volunteer for anything or everything. As you pray about it, you may sense God is prompting you to start a “not to do” list!

· You have just enough time to do God's will this season. You’ve been given just enough time to fulfill his purpose over the next 30 days. When you try to do more than God planned for you to do, it’s only natural that you’ll stress over your schedule.

· Does your list include rest? God doesn’t want you to burn out; in fact, he may want you to specifically add “rest” to your to-do list because he knows you’re trying to overdo it. Does your list include having fun this season as you express gratitude to God the gift of his Son?

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

A Holiday Outreach – Side By Side
By Jon Walker

“You are working together and struggling side-by-side to get others to believe the Good News.” (Philippians 1:27b CEV)

This holiday season, make evangelism a team effort. Work together with other Christians (1 Corinthians 3:9) to accomplish more than you could alone. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)

For example, instead of trying to plan and prepare a holiday party meant for your neighbors, get together with some of your Christian fiends and collectively host a party for your collective neighbors. Like the four friends who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus (Mark 2:1-12), you can draw strength and encouragement from one another as you bring our own friends into the presence of Jesus.

The first step for your small group is to pray together. Here are four ways your group can pray for your non-believing friends and family members:

First, pray for an opportunity to talk about Jesus (Colossians 4:3) – Ask God to give you an opportunity to tell others about Christ, and to invite them to your Christmas party. And don’t doubt it, God will answer the prayer!

Second, pray that God will prepare the hearts of those you try to reach. – Do you know how God softens hearts? He sends the rain. Anytime you see someone going through a storm in life, you can know God is softening that person’s heart. Who do you know who is in a storm this holiday season? How can you pray for that person? How can you support him or her?

Third, pray for God to soften your heart. – Say, “I’ll be honest, God. I don’t care that much about other people. I care about myself. I care about my own plans and priorities and my family.” Soon God will fill your heart with a “burden,” which is just an old-fashioned word that means your heart is now tender toward other people.

Fourth, pray that the words of Jesus “will simply take off and race through the country to a groundswell of response” (2 Thessalonians 3:1 MSG), just as they did among the early Christians.

What now?

· Be inventive as you collectively tell others about Jesus – Have a holiday party, movie night, game night, dessert night – the possibilities are unlimited. The Bible says, “Make the most of your chances to tell others the Good News. Be wise in all your contacts with them.” (Colossians4:5 LB)

· Make a list; check it twice – Who is God telling you to pray for, encourage, and support this holiday season? Write the names down so you can give more than just fleeting thought to them. Tell your small group of friends about who they are and why you believe God placed them on your list.

· Pray together with your friends – “Father, we want you to use us to reach our neighbors for Jesus. Develop in us a deep concern for people who don’t know Jesus, and prompt us to pray consistently for their salvation. We know you paid a high price to bring us into your family, and we agree with you that no one is hopeless or beyond the reach of your love. Guide us as we reach out in your name, and give us an inventive creativity as we plan ways to share the Good News. In faith, we ask that during this season, we be able to reach ________ people for you. We lift this prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.” (Ask God for a goal, a number to fill in the blank above. May God anoint your Noel message and allow you to have great fun with your friends in the process).

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.