Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6)
I know that it’s not yet December and still I feel inspired to share 25 tips to prepare spiritually for Christmas. A head start in preparation should be of good help for you.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ Jesus our Lord. Do remember that almost everyone has celebrated their own birthday at some time or the other. Many love to celebrate the birthday of their friend and loved ones. It’s a way to express their love for the gift of life their own have received. And here we have someone even more greater, the giver of life, Christ himself. How much more are we to value his birth and his coming to save us from sin and death?
Let’s read the following scriptures:
- For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7)
- She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21)
- And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11)
So now here are 25 tips to prepare spiritually for Christmas:
- Read the scriptures about Jesus, especially the reason why Jesus had to come as a man on earth. Read as much as you can. (A little head start, please read 1 Peter 1:20, Hebrews 9:26, Acts 2:23-25)
- Meditate on the scriptures pertaining to the birth of Christ. (Please read Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 7:14, Jeremiah 23:5, Micah 5:2, Luke 1:39-45, John 1:9-14)
- Pray by yourself alone in God’s presence even more. (read Matthew 6:6 which says But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.)
- Don’t neglect to pray in groups as well, especially with your family (read Matthew 18:20 in which Jesus said; For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them)
- Learn to sing praises to the Lord. If you are good at singing already you might as well sing with your family and Christian friends. If not, then do try by yourself first.
- Eat well but in proportion. Do not overeat no matter how nice the pie looks like. This is not a time to gain weight but rather to seek God.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in God’s will. Try to realize what the Spirit wants you to do this Christmas.
- Repent of all sins that you are still stuck in. Our Holy God is best praised by a holy worshiper. So truly repent with your heart and ask for pardon and mercy from Christ.
- Feed the poor and needy, the widows and orphans in need. You may not be able to feed all of them in your city but surely you can feed at least one. Some churches around this season have a feed the poor program, so you might like to check out with them if they need some help from you.
- Tell others about Jesus Christ to non-Christians. Again, you may not be able to reach out to the whole area that you live but you can always speak a little bit here and there to your non-Christian friends who might be curious about the Christian faith. Why not invite them to a Church service that preaches Christ as the Savior of the world.
- Speak about Jesus Christ at home with your family. Even if all know Christ, it’s still good that you as a family reaffirm your faith and unity in Christ.
- Send out greeting cards (or emails for those in the fast lane) to all your friends and dear ones away from home. Let them know that Christ came into the world for them and cares for them.
- Reach to your family especially your parents or anyone whom you have not been in contact for a long time. Speak kindness and encouragement to them. If there are differences see to the best that you can to reconcile in good faith with them. (This point was not what I intended to write today but feel inspired to write anyway. Maybe it’s God’s message for some people who will be reading this)
- Write poems unto the Lord. I’m not talking about publishing them. Rather its about penning your good thoughts about Jesus back to him. It might be your first time but I’m sure the Lord will appreciate your heart into expressing your love to him in poems. (There is no compulsion to do this but do it as you feel inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so. Maybe the Lord wants you do some other art form)
- Refrain from worldly passions which distract you from the will of God. Do not get entangled in unseemly entertainment, hobbies etc.
- Manage your time. I mean schedule your leaves and work or study timings to spend quality time in prayer, Bible reading and praising God.
- Submit your plans to God. As the year is coming to a close and a new year will begin, think of all the things you want to do in the future. Don’t be a in a hurry nor anxious but do it with an open mind ready to accept the grace of God.
- Pray for the persecuted Christians. Not every land on earth is free from violent bigots. A lot of Christians suffer persecution and injustice just because of their faith in Christ. Pray that they come out of prison, pray for their dignity, pray for their peace and safety.
- Do not overspend. Christmas is not a time of splurging and getting into debt. So do not waste money on unnecessary expenses. Keep yourself out of the grasp of materialism. Jesus is going to look at your heart instead of how richly you spend, so don’t worry if you can’t afford a lavish Christmas.
- Be free of legalism. Jesus came to set you free. Do not get into the trap of anything falsely called tradition but only makes you go into a guilt trip to do things to earn the grace of God. If the grace of God can be earned, then it’s not grace at all.
- Rest in God. An often neglected teaching but one must find one’s true rest in Christ Jesus. It’s that you must believe unto God to give you rest. Take time to receive his rest.
- Don’t get too busy in the things that one does to generally prepare for Christmas such as the tree lights, decorations etc. These are just external ways to celebrate and can be a distraction from the true meaning of Christmas if you are too focused on it.
- Avoid undue fights in relationships. Whether its home or church do not waste your time getting into foolish arguments on petty issues like the choice of food and drinks, Christmas carols, clothes etc.
- Be safe. Though it may seem a physical tip it’s much related to your spirit as your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Avoid any contaminated food or drink. Don’t try dangerous stunts just for a camera shot that you want to share with others. Hope you get the idea.
- Be thankful to God. Christmas is the time to thank God for sending Jesus Christ his Son on earth as a man to save us. So do express your gratitude to God.
- Jesus Christ Immanuel God is with us (disciplesofhope.wordpress.com)
- What is the meaning of the Incarnation of Christ? (altruistico.wordpress.com)
- Rest In All Thy Goings !!!!!! (levithetford.com)
- A reminder of God’s love for those who believe in Christ (disciplesofhope.wordpress.com)
By Wendy McElroy
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and it will be used to promote a big lie — namely, that we live in a “rape culture.”
The term “rape culture” was coined by politically correct (PC) feminists in the 1970s. It refers to attitudes, beliefs, and values that allegedly normalize sexual violence against women and encourage the act of rape by men. America is called a “rape culture” because sexual violence is deemed to be so pervasive that all women live in constant danger from all men. The violence or threat of it occurs on a continuum running from sexual glances to physical rape. The fact that so many people are unaware of the rape culture surrounding them only points to its omnipresence; that is, the rape culture is…
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And Jesus said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
Let read Psalm 67 which is a call to all people to praise God. Here we go:
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah 2 that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations. 3 Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee! 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for thou dost judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
5 Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee! 6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us. 7 God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!
When reading the above Psalm you must have seen the word ‘Selah’ and then wondered what does that mean. It’s not an English word so it’s hardly used when talking in general. It’s a Hebrew word which in the context of the Psalm means to pause and praise. There are things in life which we must not skim over and let it go. These are things to be valued and cherished. Though there are many ways to do appreciate things, one of the ways is to pause for a moment and think of it.
In the same way when you think of the things of God like his grace, blessings and saving power you just don’t do a blink and a miss on it. You take time to relish the Lord’s goodness towards us. So that is why you must pause and praise God for his revelation of love for us.
People love their blessings from God and want to be blessed even more. Who wouldn’t want their families to be prosperous in all aspects of life? However, that’s not where it ends. One of the reasons God blesses us is that the people of the earth are made aware of his saving power. Let’s therefore, not ask to be blessed only to keep it within our loved ones but also so that God’s gracious nature is manifested through us to a world of people who live in despair.
The Lord is the God of justice. Many a times people try to take revenge, sometimes they succeed and sometimes they don’t. Yet true justice eludes them. There are the oppressed poor who have no one to speak for them. Very few care about their existence. It’s true that, we live in a fallen world and evil things do happen. The Lord God, time and again raises up men and women who strive for justice and peace for the poor and oppressed, even though not all of them know Jesus as their savior. These agents of justice have their season on earth and then pass away into eternity. The work of justice still goes on even as more people are called by God to help others. Besides, the Lord God himself executes judgement against the powers of darkness and those who love it, so that there is justice done. May the people of the world realize this truth and turn their hearts towards the Lord.
Our Lord God is not limited to judgement alone. He is the God of true and lasting blessing. He blesses his people on earth. He rewards their good deeds in this life and in the next. Even our ability to good works ultimately comes from the Lord. No doubt a person must be willing for it, and surely he or she shall be rewarded, yet we must realize that it’s mostly God’s grace in the midst of it all.
By our own works and merits we do not deserve his grace. It’s only by faith in his Son our Lord Jesus Christ, can we approach his throne of grace in times of need (see Hebrews 4:16). God’s loves those who love Christ. But he has a heart for sinners too. He also cares for the lost sheep who are still in the darkness. No wonder though they are not seated in heavenly places like us who believe in Jesus, he still let’s it rain on them too (see Matthew 5:43-45).
The harvest of the earth though has human effort and wisdom applied but it is the Lord God who protects it from dangers when we are least aware. He is the one who prevents the workers of the Evil One from doing their vile deeds against you. It is the Lord who blesses the farmer with good health, so that there is an abundant harvest. No wonder in this light of the revelation of his grace and love towards us, we must praise and thank God for his mercy and for his blessings towards us. Give thanks to Christ Jesus for the salvation that you have received from him.
A few scriptures to reflect on:
- I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. (Ecclesiastes 3:17)
- Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (Isaiah 1:17)
- For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:4)
- Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable. Speak out in order to judge with righteousness and to defend the needy and the poor. (Proverbs 31:8-10)
- Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:18)
- Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.(James 1:17-18)
- And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Cor 9:8)
- Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
In my earlier post Being brave and smart to tackle danger (Part 1) we focused on knowing and asserting your rights. Today I want to show how to use the truth to your advantage, use your words wisely and keep your eyes open to tackle any attacks.
Let’s read Acts 23:1-11 which shows how the Apostle Paul at the Sanhedrin effectively used the above principles to keep himself out of danger:
1 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” 4 Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”
6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” 10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks.
11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
When in faced with danger, do not cower in fear. Be like Paul, who kept his eyes and mind open to use the situation to his advantage. He didn’t have to lie but took advantage of the truth. He tackled the high priest Ananias who illegally tried to get Paul slapped. Paul didn’t use foul words but used clear logic that the high priest was trying to judge as per the law and yet himself was going against the methods of the law. Only later when Paul was told that Ananias was the high priest that he didn’t go ahead with rebuking him any further.
But Ananias was not the only person to be stopped. There were more. Paul must have understood that if he didn’t act in time something really bad will happen to him. Again like I mentioned in my earlier post, Paul did suffer martyrdom but that day was not day to be martyred.
Since Paul himself was trained in the ways of the Pharisees he could easily distinguish between the Pharisees and their rivals the Sadducees. He sensed a great opportunity to set things right. So he said aloud, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” Due to great divide between the Pharisees and the Sadducees on the reality of the resurrection with the result that some of Pharisees spoke in Paul’s favor. (This is one of the good things of the Pharisees unlike the Sadducees who deny angels, spirits and resurrection who are therefore vile little heretics)
As a matter of fact, Paul was in trial because he claimed Jesus as the Lord and also that Jesus rose from the dead (this is a teaching central to the Christian faith and any deviation from this is heresy). So Paul did NOT lie his way out of trouble. With some of the Pharisees now agree that there was no fault with Paul, it gradually resulted in a violent clash between the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Roman tribune then intervened by getting the soldiers to save Paul from this fighting. And of course, the Lord appreciated Paul and told him the he will get to testify in Rome for Christ as how he did in Jerusalem.
Now learning from Paul’s case you can apply this too in your life. Suppose, someone is trying to draw a gun on you and you don’t have a weapon. Then scream and say loudly ‘please don’t hurt me with your gun, I did no wrong’. This will either alert the people nearby to save you or dissuade the attacker or even give you a small time window to escape.
Suppose you are stuck in a very bad lawsuit in which you are wrongly targeted and suddenly you realize that there is an organization which helps out those in trouble like you, then reach out to them. Like in cases of international business disputes, you know very well that if the other countries court’s are biased against your nation then they won’t give you a fair hearing, then get in what are known as arbitrators to give you some justice. If you are under racial attacks, first get yourself out of danger and then reach to organizations that tackle racism (Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti Defamation League, Newham Monitoring Project, National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR) or whichever similar organization in your region). Just keep your eyes and mind open for any such individuals or groups which help out people in trouble.
Imagine you are an Aussie citizen roaming in South Africa and due to whatever reason, you are being chased by gun wielding thugs. And if you happen to see the Australian embassy near you, then don’t be a hero to stand cornered to fight the minions of debauchery, you simply get into the embassy and save your life. I’m sure the Aussie guards will be a great deterrent to your assailants. This tip should work for any citizen with his/her own country’s embassy normally.
If you are troubled by demons, do not play coy with your preacher and behave as if you are in pristine condition. Open your mind and be humble enough to at least get help in private from your church elders and it’s people trained in deliverance ministry. All you need to do is speak and say that you need help.
Appeal unto Christ Jesus when in danger by evil spirits. Don’t be a victim. Christ has authority over all of the powers of the Evil One. Take advantage of this truth.
Christ be with you!
P.S : Part 3 of this will be out soon. Pray for me.
In adversity, it’s easy to be humble before God as you know that your ability cannot save you. You therefore come in prayer and in deep respect before God for your breakthrough or miracle. One of the reasons why non Christians get miracles when they pray to Jesus Christ is because they know that they have expended the last straw and have nothing left to save them. So acknowledging their helplessness, they usually pray to Jesus saying they don’t have anything to deserve a miracle but come humble appealing to his mercy.
Now contrast this with people who weren’t the best of moral men and had prosperity. How due to their pride in themselves they didn’t give God the honor that he deserves and by this they later fell into great trouble. Let me give you some examples of three kings mentioned in the Bible where their wrong attitude towards God became their undoing.
King Solomon of Israel was abundantly rich. He had loads and loads of gold and precious stones. Yet in his defiant and ungodly ambition to be great, he multiplied horses which was forbidden for a king of Israel. Deuteronomy 17:16 says that, “The king must not build up a large stable of horses for himself or send his people to Egypt to buy horses, for the LORD has told you, ‘You must never return to Egypt.’ Solomon however didn’t get punished for this sin. So taking wrong advantage of this, he multiplied wives, yes and not just getting more one wife. But that’s not the end of Solomon’s sin. By the evil influence of his wives, he built a multitude of worship centers for false gods of his wives, all over the land of Israel, in defiance of the Lord God’s commandments which is against the worship of false gods.
You can read all of 1 Kings 11 to get details on this. So in the end God judged Solomon and raised multiple adversaries against him. These were Hadad the Edomite and Rezon the son of Eliada who led their armies against Israel during this times of Solomon. That was not all, the Lord divided the kingdom of Israel, such that Jeroboam the son of Nebat got 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel for himself. The glory of Solomon was therefore diminished greatly due to his own pride in his own wisdom instead of respecting what God had told him in the Holy Scriptures.
Sennacherib the king of Assyria
There was a wicked king who was called Sennacherib king of Assyria, who achieved great victories against many kingdoms. His armed forces brutally killed many people in their evil wars. Then he turned his attention towards Israel. The Jews were dismayed when Sennacherib blasphemed against the Lord God of Israel by sending a message to the people “Who among all the gods of those nations that my fathers devoted to destruction was able to deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!” (2 Chronicles 32:14-15)
Not only Sennacherib but also his servants gave such wicked messages to the Israelite’s. This ultimately led to the great downfall of Sennacherib which you can read as mentioned below:
Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven. And the Lord sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword. (2 Chronicles 32:20-21)
The impious Herod
Herod was a king who was prosperous and wicked. He didn’t give true honor to God (read Acts 12:20-24 to get an idea about this). So an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.
Remember that whether you are a king or not you still need to be humble.Just so that no one mistakes that humility is only for kings and leaders to follow, let’s remember the following words of Jesus our Lord:
- For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 14:11)
- Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
- The teaching points of Hezekiah… (audacityandsupposition.com)
- The Worse Judgment from God to face is The Judgment of your Works (prophecynewsandviews.wordpress.com)
- LISTEN: God, the Nature of Evil, and Stephen King (Gospel Light Minute X with Daniel Whyte III) (blackchristiannews.com)
- Bathsheba (georgehach.wordpress.com)