Month: December 2019

The Game’s Been Won

2 Corinthians 5:15, 17
And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. . . . Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Written by: Alfred Burgess

Are you a gamer? If you’re reading this on a screen, odds are you’ve at least dabbled, and you’ve likely resolved either to a) spend less time playing in the new year or b) finally beat that game that’s been kicking your tail.

Here’s one thing that makes gaming so addictive: You get to start over. Every time. Whether you’ve played the level once or repeatedly, you start again and again with a clean slate. Maybe this time you’ll be perfect.

It’s that performance impulse that drives our New Year’s resolution-making list. “Yeah, I know I did not achieve the ideal last year. I was not the person I wanted to be morally or fiscally or socially or spiritually. But I’m about to start a new level—a new year. Maybe this time will be different. Maybe I’ll be perfect.”

Here’s the problem: God doesn’t call us to fine-tune ourselves into better and better examples of ourselves. If we are in Christ, He says he’s already “fixed” us. “The new is here!”

The game’s been won. All the levels have been beaten. Instead of trying to life-hack ourselves into perfection, God calls us to live in the new us He has already made. It’s not about the lists; Paul loved making lists of how Christ-changed people live. What it’s about is power and focus: You already have God’s power. What will you focus it on this year? Who will you “just live” for?

WTD-Devotional12.31Thought of the day: If you removed every item on your resolutions list related to self-improvement, what would be left? Are there unselfish reasons to work out, eat better, or read more? What would a list of resolutions focused entirely on serving Christ and others have on it? Is it possible to make a list of resolutions without becoming overly self-focused?

Prayer: Ask God to help you to live as the new creation he is making you into this year. Ask him to help you to grow in your resolve to live for the “one who died for you and was raised again.” Ask him to help you make this year less about serving yourself—even by making yourself a “better you.”

The In-Between

Isaiah 43:18-19
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

Written by: Kyle Glenn

This past year we moved locally as a family. In the summer. In the desert. It is safe to say that was not one of the highlights of this past year. No matter how far you move, the process is still the same. Everything you own goes into a box. You do not have what you need when you need it. Things get lost and misplaced. During that time, you are temporarily living out of suitcases, bags, and toiletry kits. We described this time as the “in-between” time. We weren’t where we once were, and we weren’t where we were going to be. We were “in-between.”

This week is the in-between week. It’s after Christmas, but it’s before the New Year. An entire year is coming to end. Much has happened this past year: new relationships, new growth, difficult challenges, losses, and wins. I’m sure you can process your own list as you reflect on this past year. Maybe you find yourself “in-between” in some area of your life.

Do we spend this time looking back, or looking forward?  The answer is, Yes. Biblically, we are encouraged to remember what God has done in the past.

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes,
I will remember your wonders of old.
– Psalm 77:1

Never forget God’s faithfulness from the past. But that doesn’t mean we are to live in the past.

The exciting news is that God is the God of the new (Isaiah 43:18-19). No matter what happened today, a sunrise awaits tomorrow. New days, new weeks, new months, and new years. The great news is that we are not defined by what happened yesterday.

As followers of Jesus, we believe the best days are still to come. We believe this next year will be the best year yet. We aren’t where we ultimately long to be, but that is ok because one day we will be.

WTD-Devotional12.30Thought of the day:  During this in-between, take some time to reflect on where you have seen God at work. Write it down. As a new year begins, take time to write down what you sense God asking you to do in 2020.

Prayer: God, thank You for sustaining me through this past year. Thank You for being the God of the new. Thank You for another year. Give me the wisdom to know what to do this next year. I ask You for the courage to do what I sense You are asking me to do.

The Weary World Rejoices

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Written by: Gina Rock

The finish line of 2019 is fast approaching and you may be crawling or even limping toward it. If this year has been a challenging one, the turning calendar might not offer much hope as your January schedule is already filling up and your troubles follow you into the new year.

But there is hope yet! Because of Jesus, the weary world rejoices. Because God is with us, we don’t have to carry our burdens alone. Jesus Himself invites us to find rest in Him.

CASV-12.27Thought of the day: Trusting in Jesus doesn’t promise us an easy life but trusting in Jesus makes way for a rested spirit in the midst of this broken world. Trusting Jesus grants us hope that all that’s broken will be restored one day when He comes again. As we countdown to a new year, let’s do so knowing that Jesus carries our burdens from the past and is ready to receive any burdens that the new year will bring.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the hope we have in Jesus. Thank You that no burden is too heavy to give to You. Help me to trust You and find rest in You. Amen.

Remembering the Holiness of Christmas

Matthew 11:28-30
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Written by: Danielle Morgan

Have you ever felt tired or worn? I’m not referring solely to physical exhaustion, although we’ve all been there, but rather soul exhaustion. It’s a common feeling and for various reasons Christmas seems to heighten these feelings.

We get caught up in the busyness of life and the hustle and bustle of the season, and too often, we’re left feeling tired, worn out, and missing out on the whole point. But what if we were to slow it down? What if we embraced a new rhythm for our lives this year—one that would eliminate the heaviness in our souls and bring us back to holiness?

It starts with Jesus—always Jesus. So often, our relationship with Him becomes an afterthought. We treat it more like something we need to check off our to-do list, rather than a true investment into the most important relationship in the world. And really, there’s nothing wrong with creating habits and trying to build routines but being present in the moment and seeking after the heart of Christ often gets missed.

You see, Jesus is our example for the life we so desperately crave… the life we want, even when we don’t realize we want or need it. So, as we pass Christmas let’s bring it back to Jesus –– let’s remember the reason for our hope and grow expectant in our hearts for the miracle that is Immanuel.

CASV-12.26Thought of the day: What is a regular habit you can create that will allow you to draw closer to Jesus? Remember, He is inviting you in and wants to reveal himself to you.

What distractions in your life do you need to surrender to God as you begin to trust Him with every part of your life? He can work the soul exhaustion out and replace it with His peace.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the gift of Jesus – for God in the flesh. Forgive me for placing anything above you and your presence in my life. Help me to see and experience your love for me this Christmas and replace my exhaustion with your peace. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Beyond Christmas

Matthew 1:23
Look! The Virgin will conceive a child. She will have a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means God is with us.

Written by: Tiffany Robinson

Christmas is celebrated in many ways. Many of us have slight variations of traditions. One of my family’s traditions is stockings. I know most people do stockings, but we take it to the next level. We put items in our stockings that hint at what our gifts might be. So, batteries equal electronics or socks could mean new shoes. It is a fun, suspenseful way to look forward to what is to come.

The first Christmas looked quite strange to almost everyone. Mary was poor and pregnant in an unbelievable way. They had no place to stay. She was going to have her baby soon. A baby was delivered in a filthy stable surrounded by livestock. He was born into the mess of this world to be with us. Talk about a suspenseful way to start the story of Jesus!

From the moment He came to earth, Jesus did things contrary to the world around Him. He lived a perfect life and taught people about grace and truth. He spent time with people no one else did. He called disciples from people who were deemed unworthy by everyone else. In everything He did, He chose people.

Christmas is about Jesus. It marks the beginning of God’s plans to save all people. But Jesus isn’t the reason for Christmas, people are. Jesus came to be with people, to love people and to save people. He came to give us an example of how to treat and love people. That goes beyond Christmas.

Just like Jesus, we should live like people are the reason. When we serve others, we bring joy to those around us and ourselves.

CASV-12.25Thought of the day: How can we make our lives more about others and less about ourselves?

Prayer: God, thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to save us from our sin. Thank You that He was a model for all of us to learn from. Help us to live out Jesus’ example of putting people first. Give us margin to serve others and love others the way Jesus served and loved us. Amen.