★ Thought for the Day – A Season for Everything ★

89 - Daily Dependence - Ecclesiastes 3 - 1-8 - A Time For EverythingEcclesiastes 3:1-8 (NKJV) says,

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible he had this commentary on verse 1…

“In His wisdom and sovereignty, God sets an appropriate time for everything.  At the right time, Christ was born (Galatians 4:4); at the right time, He lifts us up (1 Peter 5:6).  Don’t run ahead of God’s timing!  His blessings are always worth the wait.” 

We just concluded a 25 day consecutive series of post looking into the “Reason for the Season” and why we should be thankful at Christmastime.  If you missed it, you can catch up by ★ Clicking Here ★.  We spent that time delving into the significance of that Season and why it was so important for Jesus to come.  On Day 01 we started off with this quote from John Maxwell,

“Reflection turns experience into insight.” 

Today, as 2015 draws to an end, let’s not get ahead of God’s timing…Before we enter into a new year with fresh opportunities and a clean slate, I thought it appropriate to take moment in this season before January 1, to share with you what I have reflected upon that God spoke to me in the season of “Advent.”  My prayer is that like me, you would gain a new insight!  This will also be an opportunity for those that missed the series to get a sampling of what we posted about through the series.  Below are hyperlinks to each day’s post and one aspect that God really spoke to me about…

★ Day 01 – Reason for the Season – Why Do We Celebrate? ★

“Christmas is about Jesus being conceived in YOU!  It’s about Jesus growing in you and you delivering Jesus to the world around you.”  Robert Morris Senior Pastor at Gateway Church

★ Day 02 – Reason for the Season – Why I Say Merry Christmas ★

“First, meditate on the fact that we need a Savior.  Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight.  It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior.”  John Piper

★ Day 03 – Reason for the Season – Let Hope Arise ★

“In Scripture, however, hope is void of uncertainty.  In fact, certainty is at its core, because it rests in the stability of God, His character and His will, which are unwavering.  Biblical hope, then, can be defined as, “the confident expectation and desire for something good in the future…Hope is essential to our faith.”  121 Advent Bible Plan

★ Day 04 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Consumerism ★

“Celebrate Christmas with a spirit of adoration and joy.  Celebrate by stringing up twinkling lights on your front door.  Celebrate by humming the tunes of Nat King Cole and “Silent Night.”  Celebrate by giving to those in need.”  My Daughter, age 14

★ Day 05 – Reason for the Season – Faith Like Mary ★

“For the word of God will never fail.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May everything you have said about me come true.”  And then the angel left her.  Luke 1:37-38

★ Day 06 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Should Change Us ★

Regardless of whether we are just starting out in life or reaching the end, their example shows that you are never too young or too old to experience God’s promises!”  My wife’s insight

★ Day 07 – Reason for the Season – Unwavering Acceptance ★

“Integrity is when your behavior matches your beliefs … when what you SAY and what you DO aren’t separate … it’s an INTEGRATED lifestyle.  Integrity will bring you peace.  Trust, Respect, Honor and Influence will happen for you if you walk with integrity.”  David Smith, Elder at Gateway Church

★ Day 08 – Reason for the Season – Christmas or X-Mas? – Part 2 ★

“He [Jesus] must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” of John 3:30 (NLT) 

★ Day 09 – Reason for the Season – Who Do You Belong To? ★

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”  C.S. Lewis

★ Day 10 – Reason for the Season – What is the Spirit of Christmas? ★

“The beauty of the hope ushered in through Christ and made alive in us through His Spirit, is that it gives us the ability to have abiding hope, that transcends earthly circumstances and uncertainty.”  121 Advent Bible Plan

★ Day 11 – Reason for the Season – Following Jesus Will Cost You ★

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”  Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB)

★ Day 12 – Reason for the Season – Oh Holy Night ★

“God rules all things—even motel capacities—for the sake of his children.  The Calvary road begins with a “No Vacancy” sign in Bethlehem and ends with the spitting and scoffing of the cross in Jerusalem.”

“Yes, God could have seen to it that Jesus have a room at his birth.  But that would have been a detour off the Calvary road.”  John Piper

★ Day 13 – Reason for the Season – The Nativity Revealed ★

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)

★ Day 14 – Reason for the Season – Joy to the World ★

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”  Kay Warren

★ Day 15 – Reason for the Season – A Shepherd’s View of Christmas ★

“The people that men consider to be NOBODIES, God considered them to be SOMEBODIES.”  Kevin Brennan

★ Day 16 – Reason for the Season – Gifts from the Heart ★

“The true secret of life is to give rather than receive, and no greater gift has been given to us than God   giving His only Son, Jesus, to make a way for us, to bring us hope and salvation.”   Chris Tomlin

★ Day 17 – Reason for the Season – Consumed with Busyness ★

“Want to Keep Christ in Christmas?

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  Steve Maraboli

★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★

“Without Jesus, Christianity is just another religion among many. After all, He is the very essence of God who came not only to take away the sins of the world, but to reveal the Father to us in the flesh.”  Tony Evans

★ Day 19 – Reason for the Season – Everlasting Gratitude ★

“The greatest source of happiness is the ability to be grateful at all times.”  Zig Ziglar

★ Day 20 – Reason for the Season – The Father’s Love ★

“Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.”  C.S. Lewis

★ Day 21 – Reason for the Season – Neighborly Competition ★

“I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:12b (NKJV)

★ Day 22 – Reason for the Season – Part of the Stable Few? ★

“Worship will get you through the toughest times in your life, because it shifts your focus from the problem to the problem solver.”  Unknown

★ Day 23 – Reason for the Season – Can Christians Condone Claus? ★

“Santa Claus may be fun at Christmas, but he pales in comparison to the One who reigns forevermore. Jesus can give you what you really need.”  Max Lucado

★ Day 24 – Reason for the Season – Best Christmas Gift Ever! ★

“Status was never important to Jesus but selflessness was…Christ surrendered everything He loved in order that He might serve those He loved.”

“What did Christmas mean to Christ?  It meant giving up heaven, giving up the beauty of His home and selflessly coming to Earth.”  David Jeremiah

★ Day 25 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Isn’t the Destination ★

“Christmas doesn’t end December 25th…Its beautiful reality really should linger a little longer.”  Lysa TerKeurst

Let start off the New Year by closing out 2015 with a new insight!


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★ Day 20 – Reason for the Season – The Father’s Love ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1

Growing up I remember a plaque hanging on the wall called “Footprints in the Sand,” by Mary Stevenson.  It is a beautiful poem that starts off talking about two sets of footprints in the sand, 20 - Daily Dependence - God Never Left Youbut then at the lowest points in life, there is only one set because God is carrying us.  I saw this comic and thought if this is how God feels sometimes.

The Bible says in both the Old and New Testaments that God is always with us regardless of the fear and anxiety we may feel in the face of circumstances.

20 - Daily Dependence - God is Always With Us

What comforting words to know that God is always watching over us!  Life may sometimes feel like just the opposite but feelings are liars.  C.S. Lewis once said this that gives the antidote to our feelings,

“Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.”

We live in a fallen, broken world but God will carry us through any difficulty we will face.  Today’s “Reason for the Season” will center on our Father in 20 - Daily Dependence - Advent Wreath 4Heaven and His love for us!  The fourth candle that is lit on the Advent Wreath represents Love.  If you were to sum up the Bible in one word I think it would be LOVE.  From Genesis to Revelation, the pages of this Holy Book speak to the Love of God and the great lengths that He will go through to have a relationship with us.  In the ★ Day 02 – Reason for the Season – Why I Say Merry Christmas ★ post, we discussed the one Bible verse that sums up the Bible in a nut shell…John 3:16  (NLT),

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

God gave His son to save you and me!  He loves you more than you can ever imagine and sent Jesus to establish a “relationship” with us… You can read more on this in the ★ Thought for the Day – What Does The Love of God Mean? ★, all this was done so that we could have eternal life with God and Jesus in heaven.  As a father of two lovely daughters, the idea of giving them up to a horrible death is inconceivable to me!  Next to getting married, being a “Daddy” has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember.  My wife and I were married in June of 1999 and by November of 2000 we had our first bundle of joy.  I remember holding her for the first time, marveling at what a miracle she was and thinking how I would NEVER, EVER let anything happen to this precious gift!  The same was true when our second daughter was born in July of 2003. 20 - Daily Dependence - Rick Warren - God's Love It amazes me how much my heart opened up to love these little angels and it makes me think, if I, a broken, sinful man could love my children this much…How much more does my perfect Father in Heaven love me?  And as the stream of consciousness flows, my next thought is…If I would do anything to protect my child from harm, how much more would God have wanted to protect His Son Jesus from the brutality of the cross?  But yet He sent Him to earth on that first Christmas night over 2,000 years ago to do just that!  I love Rick Warren’s comparison…

“God’s love is like an ocean; you can see its beginning but cannot see its end.”

What imaginary and if we could truly fathom that, our lives would be forever changed!  Another symbol that has not beginning and no end is a circle.  My pastor shared this “Circle of Love” diagram two weeks ago to explain how God’s love was designed to operate.  His explained the process as laid out in 1 John 4:7-11 (NLT) 

7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

9 God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.  10 This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other…”

God is the source of love (v.8), and His love flows to us, who are the focus of that love (v.9a).  It then moves through Jesus (vs.9b-10) and then from us (v.11) through compassion (v.11), which is Love in Action.  And then back to God…He said that,

“Love starts and ends with God.  He is the source of Love and when we love we reflect Him.”  Marty Collier

20 - Daily Dependence - 1 John 4-18 - God First Loved UsWhat a beautiful truth!  Just a few verses later in 1 John 4:19 it says,  

“We love because He first loved us.”

For the past 20 days we have been reflecting on the Christmas narrative, but more than that, we have seen The Father’s Love in Action as He has moved Heaven and Earth to fulfill the prophecies of long ago, and to give us a path to eternal life with Him while simultaneously modeling how we ought to love others through His Son.  The Apostle Paul gives us clear instructions in Colossians 3:14-15, 17 (NLT),

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which20 - Daily Dependence - Hello I Am A Representative of Jesus binds us all together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.  For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.  And always be thankful.

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

Maybe you are struggling this Christmas season and have been asking God for a sign of His love and commitment.  Well I have good news for you, Genesis 9:12-13, 17 (NLT) has just that,

“Then God said, ‘I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.’  Then God said to Noah, ‘Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.’”

20 - Daily Dependence - God's PromiseThe rainbow is the physical manifestation of God’s love to remind us of the covenant or commitment between Him and us!  Storms will come but there is Hope when you place your life in God’s capable hands.  I will close with this final encouragement from Romans 8:38-39 (NLT) 

20 - Daily Dependence - Romans 8 - 38-39 - God Love“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Christmas embodiment of love…God the Father, who willingly sent His Son to be born in the humblest way imaginable and grow up in similar manner being from Nazareth.  Jesus was wrongly imprisoned, beaten and crucified on a Roman cross so that God could restore the relationship with His creation.  Accept the Father’s love that was given to you and I in the form of the baby in that Palestinian Stable over 2,000 years ago!  God’s Love will never leave us and will always be there to help us through whatever season we find ourselves in, just like any good Daddy would do!

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 21 – Reason for the Season – Neighborly Competition ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

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★ Day 09 – Reason for the Season – Who Do You Belong To? ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1
When you read this title what was the first thing that came to mind?  Depending on your age, your answer may be different.  We all start off being known as the daughter/son of Mr. and Mrs. _(fill in blank)_, then you may become the wife/husband of _______, and finally you could be the mother/father of _______.  My wife and I have this running joke that once we had children we stopped being called by our name to our daughter’s school population…we are now refereed to all the time as ______’s mother/father.  But there is another person we belong to which we will delve into in today’s Reason for the Season.  But first, let’s look at, Zechariah’s Prophecy – Luke 1:67-80 (NLT)

09 - Daily Dependnece - Zechariah’s Prophecy over JohnThen his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has visited and redeemed his people.
He has sent us a mighty Savior
    from the royal line of his servant David,
just as he promised
    through his holy prophets long ago.
Now we will be saved from our enemies
    and from all who hate us.
He has been merciful to our ancestors
    by remembering his sacred covenant—
the covenant he swore with an oath
    to our ancestor Abraham.
We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.
“And you, my little son,
    will be called the prophet of the Most High,
    because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
You will tell his people how to find salvation
    through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy,
    the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    and to guide us to the path of peace.”

John grew up and became strong in spirit.  And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.”

I love this picture of a Father speaking over their child and prophesying of a rich future for his son.  John Piper made this powerful point about Zechariah’s Prophecy in his “Good News of Great Joy | Daily Readings for Advent Devotional,”

“Notice two remarkable things from these words of Zechariah in Luke 1.  First, nine months earlier, Zechariah could not believe his wife would have a child.  Now, filled with the Holy Spirit, he is so confident of God’s redeeming work in the coming Messiah that he puts it in the past tense.  For the mind of faith, a promised act of God is as good as done.  Zechariah has learned to take God at his word and so has a remarkable assurance: “God has visited and redeemed!”

In ★ Day 06 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Should Change Us ★ we looked at how our faith in God’s plan will change us, and clearly today we can see that is the case for Zachariah!  That quote from John Piper hit me hard.  I have read this passage so many times but never caught that Zachariah used the past tense that…“the God of Israel, visited and redeemed his people.”  Indeed that is what Jesus has done for us but for Zechariah to prophesy that it was in the past is a picture of incredible faith!  I believe that was a result because Zechariah understood fully “who he belonged to”…God the Father in heaven who showed great love and faithfulness in giving him and Elizabeth a much longed for son!  In that culture, if you did not have a child it was considered a curse, which people believed you had sin in your life and as a result, barrenness was a punishment.  Luke 1:24-25 (NASB) tells us that when Elizabeth’s barrenness ended it brought her great joy,

“After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, ‘This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.’”

So I think it is safe to say that John the Baptist was loved greatly and probably felt like he belonged.  Going back to today’s passage, that last verse, “John grew up and became strong in spirit” I believe is indicative of the strength of his home life and his father’s influence of helping his son bring to fruition this prophesy.  There are many studies that show what a stabilizing impact a father who is present in the home can have; and conversely the negative vacuum that is created when there is not one.  If I may, I would like to speak to the Husbands and Fathers for a moment and share with you this powerful statement from Sandi Krakowski that we must do…09 - Daily Dependence - Thermostat or Thermometer

“Be a THERMOSTAT, not a thermometer, change the atmosphere around you with your attitude rather than just reflecting circumstances.”

Ask yourself, are you predominately a thermostat or a thermometer…the answer is critical.  God has called men to be leaders in our homes, and leaders set the climate in their home.  We all have our bad days but I underlined “predominately” in the hopes that you would do so soul searching over the course of time versus just having a bad day here or there.

Okay back to everyone…If you grew up having a father in your home, consider yourself blessed and take a moment today to reach out to him and say thank you for everything he’s done for you.  For me that was not the case.  In the ★ Thought for the Day – Never Fatherless ★ I shared how I grew up without a father in the house from the age of 5, and that my mother and I moved to another state at the age of 12 so I never had a father in my life to speak over me like Zechariah did.  I can testify to the fact that not having a father around left a hole in my heart that rippled into all sorts of self-destructive behaviors from excessive partying, alcohol abuse and addiction to drugs.  I carried that Father Wound for years until I accepted Jesus as my Savior and learned all about God the Father who was just waiting for me to turn away from my sinful life and trust Him for my needs.  I now have something far greater than belonging to an earthly father, I belong to my Heavenly Father and He has healed me completely!  He loves me and you so much that he gave up His one only Son to save us from the penalty of our sinful decisions.  (See John 3:16-17 or ★ Day 02 – Reason for the Season – Why I Say Merry Christmas ★, where we looked at that verse.)  1 Peter 3:18 (HCSB) says that,

“For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.”

Believing in Jesus suffering for our sins is the way to eternal life…to bring us to God the Father!  C.S. Lewis once said,

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”
“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”

I love that way he put it, “to enable” us to become sons and daughter of God.  John 6:40 (NIV1984) furthers that point by showing the God the Father’s heart,

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise Him up at the last day.”

We have a future in making that decision to believe in Jesus and finally in John 10:10 (NASB), Jesus said,

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

There is no better decision that you could make.  If this Christmas season you find yourself alone and hopeless, feeling as if you do not belong, KNOW THIS…Jesus came to give us not only life, but Life in ABUNDANCE…trust Him today!

As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Zachariah – The Voice of Disclosure.”  This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the Zachariah’s perspective.

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 10 – Reason for the Season – What is the Spirit of Christmas? ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

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