Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Freedom is one of the core values we hold dear to our heart as humans, regardless of where we’re from. In America, the Founding Fathers made sure the right to freedom was in the Constitution as the First Amendment. Freedom has been one of the cornerstones of the foundation of the United States.

There are many types of freedoms and several ways you can look at freedom.

Freedom from Debt. Being debt free is one of my biggest goals in life as it is for many. But there is one debt we all have that will never be paid off which is the debt to love others. The Bible says in Romans 13:8 (NLT) to “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.”

Freedom to Assemble. In America, we value the freedom to gather peacefully to celebrate or demonstrate in support of others. Unfortunately, lately we have witnessed the riots and looting that started with peaceful protests and the rioters infiltrated the protests ending with cities and businesses burnt down The behavior of few always affects the majority and impacts the level of freedom we can enjoy.

Freedom of Speech. Once again, Americans value the freedom of speech. But lately, that freedom has taken a turn into insulting others in public and imposing some people’s beliefs unto others. These behaviors and situations take us back to the Scripture above. The Bible tells us to not be in debt of any kind except for your obligation to love one another—that’s the key. The only thing we owe to others is to love them which is exactly the opposite of what’s going on in America right now.

Freedom of Religion. One main reason the original people who fled to America came for was precisely to obtain freedom of religion… But that religion was Christianity. Therefore, this country was founded in Christian principles based on the Bible. These days other religions are being imposed upon Christians and we are losing the freedom to practice Christianity, which is the founding religion of America. When foreigners come to a new country, they should not impose their own religion in the hosting country. The same way, when immigrants go to another country, they must learn the language of that country and not impose their language on the people who were born in that country.

But there is the most important freedom to have—Freedom of Spirit. The only way to obtain true freedom is through Jesus Christ. He gives us the gift of freedom from sin and ultimately, freedom from death. Jesus came to earth in human form so He could experience death just like us. But He rose from the dead and that’s how He beat death once and for all. When we know the truth of salvation, we obtain the gift of true freedom.

You can be the wealthiest individual on earth, have zero debt, have freedom of speech, be free to gather, and possess all the other freedoms. But you are not truly free because you are a slave to sin and you have not accepted the gift of salvation which gives you the ticket to freedom in eternity.

On the other hand, you can be in a physical jail, chained to the ground, like Paul was, and be completely free. Why? Because you know that if the worst thing that could happen to you—which is death—happens, you know where you’re going. You know you’re going to be free and spend eternity with God in heaven. How do you know that? Because when you accept Jesus in your heart as your Lord and Savior, you receive Him.

Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:8-10 tell us to:

Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.

The Bridge to Eternity

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the only way to the Father and that no one goes to the Father if it not through Him. In John 14:6, Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” It cannot be clearer!

If you want to be truly free in your life, say “yes” to Jesus. The invitation is open for you but it won’t be forever as there will be a time of reconciliation with the things of God. The time is now short. Don’t miss your cue and accept Jesus’ invitation to be free of sin forever, to be truly free!

The gateway to heaven for each person is Jesus and those of us who have accepted his gif of salvation have the responsibility to tell everyone. It’s our primary job as Christians and we are commanded to do so! Building bridges means building relationships with others so we can show them “The Bridge.” So we can show them the way to eternity by personally introducing them to Jesus.

I leave you with Matthew 28:18-20: Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This week I listened to a podcast interview from The Master’s Program for Women. Nadya Dickson, Director, interviewed Dr. Barbara Peacock, minister, speaker, and author, and asked her to share her testimony. When Dr. Peacock was asked the question, “How did you come to Christ?” She responded, “Someone told me that God loves me… and I believed them.” Her testimony stayed with me and I’m writing to you today to ask you this question: Has someone ever told you that God loves you? If not, I’m telling you today. God LOVES YOU so so much that He gave His only Son Jesus to die for you on the cross so you can have eternal life.

There are two key action verbs here: “Told” and “Believed.” Someone must tell you about the message of salvation. Someone has to share with you that Jesus died on the cross because He loves you so much. You must be “told” about this beautiful story of love. The second action verb is that you must believe the story. You have to make a decision to believe the message of love. You must choose to believe that God loves you and accept the gift of salvation.

Why is it so hard for people to tell the story and for others to believe this amazing story? Fear and faith. Those who have been told and believed are afraid to share the story from fear of rejection. But the Bible reminds us that when people reject the message, they’re not rejecting you. They’re rejecting Jesus. “For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this. This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him.” (Acts 3:13)

Here is the simple message from Romans 10:9-11 that we must tell others:

For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, ad it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed.”

Those who have been told and choose not to believe is because they lack the faith to believe. Faith is also a gift we must obtain first in order to accept the gift of salvation. In the same Chapter, Paul tells us “But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again). “In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach—is already within easy rich.” (vs. 6-8).

If someone has told you the message of salvation, believe!

If you believed that God loves you so much and accepted Jesus in your heart, I encourage you to tell someone so they can believe too!

Do you want to see ALL your loved ones again in heaven and live with them together with God for eternity? This is the only way. Tell them God loves them and believe God loves you!

Forgiveness

In recent days with all the violence and unjust acts that have happened around us, it is easy (and normal) to react with anger and a sense of outrage. But it’s not healthy—physically nor spiritually—to fill our hearts with anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. God tells us clearly time and again that we must forgive those who hurt us. We must love and forgive our enemies! Wow, that’s very hard to do. But it is possible when we have the love of God in our hearts… In fact, I think that’s the only way we’re able to make that huge step to forgive those who purposely inflict pain in our lives.

Here are several scriptures that instruct us to forgive others and how to do it. Let me start with Matthew 5:43-48 (NLT):

Teaching about Love for Enemies

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

This is a direct and clear message to love our enemies—not with human love but with Godly love. In addition, we are instructed to pray for those who persecute us! For as hard as this is to understand and do, let’s reflect on this action. When we pray for those who persecute and hate us, we allow God to work in their hearts, sometimes to the point that they change and they no longer persecute us. When pray, God listens—even if we don’t see the results right away. God always hears our sincere prayers.

Remember what Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” We may never understand this truth fully as long as we are living our earthly lives. This is a spiritual revelation we must accept in our hearts.

Next, let’s examine what the Bible tells us about anger and bitterness in Ephesians 4:29-32:

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Once again, the act of forgiveness is a huge part of our daily lives as believers. Simply put, if we don’t forgive those who offend us, God won’t forgive our own sins!

God commands us to not only listen to the things of God but to also act on what we learn. In James 1:19-22 we are told:

Listening and Doing

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.”

In 1 Peter 3:8-12, we have a final reminder:

All Christians

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.

Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”

You may say, this is all great but it’s all easier said than done. You are correct. But as I shared at the beginning of the blog, we can only do this with the love of God in our hearts which we obtain by accepting Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Savior. That’s how simple it is in the end…

Until next time.

Psalm 55:22 tells us to “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Do you feel your heart burdened these days with everything going on? I do. Last night, I was praying to God in anguish to help us, to heal our nation, to forgive us, to protect us, to end the virus, to end this violence, to end the hatred… The list was endless, and my heart was heavy.

It is difficult to sit back and “watch the movie of life unfold” while not judging everyone’s acts. But the Bible also tells us clearly in Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 4:5 we read, “So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.”

So these days as we observe others commit violent crimes, I encourage you to look inside your own heart and ask yourself: What am I doing in my life that is not pleasing to God? What can I do as an act of love to help others? Striving to live a holy life on a daily basis is easier said than done. But once again, the Word of God reminds us in Hebrews 12:14-15 to, “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”

Based on the current events happening all around us, our human tendency is to immediately judge. But the Bible tells us to not do that. Instead, give ALL your burdens to the Lord so He can take care of everything. Every single act by every single person will be judged in due time but by God not by us. We will get our turn to be judged and that’s when everything we have done—good and bad—will be tried by fire to see what stands in the end.

I will leave you today with the message from John 3:18-21, “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

Today I encourage you to examine your own heart and not judge others. Let God do the judging and give all your burdens to God.

Do you need to grow in wisdom? Today I was reading the Psalms and stopped to ponder on Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

During this quarantine time due to the global pandemic, most people have been given the gift of extra time. Personally, even though I have been busy with consulting work, all the in-person speaking engagements from April and May were rescheduled to the fall and that gave me some free time. I have saved a lot of days that I would have been traveling to go speak at conferences. Instead, I have been home.

My husband and I have spent a lot of quality time together and have enjoyed our grand baby Henry James. Because his daycare was closed in April, we have taken this opportunity to watch him several days and we have created amazing memories with him. Daycare is still closed in May so we look forward to spending more time with him again.

With the extra time, we have also watched a lot of movies lately and today when I read this verse, I stopped to think… What if we spent all that time “growing in wisdom” instead of watching movies? While watching movies is fun, I think we need to make more time to grow in wisdom. Even though I have spent quality time with God too in my daily prayer as well as the weekends, I can do better. I can read the Bible more. I can pray more for so many people in need in the world. I can reconnect with some old friends. I can spend more time reading books that will help me grow my relationship with the Lord and help me grow in wisdom.

So, do you need to grow in wisdom? Today I encourage you to join me in first seeking God to show you how to make the most of your time and then do activities where you can grow in wisdom. The Bible is always a source of wisdom and you can purpose to read it more often. The Proverbs and Psalms are full of wisdom nuggets to help you navigate each day of your life and every season throughout your entire life.

I also encourage you to read the entire Psalm 91 where God promises us to protect “those who love Him” from evil—and that includes this pandemic. Psalm 91:1 promises us that “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” When we spend our time in His presence and reading His Word, we are “living in the shelter of the Most High” and we may also “grow in wisdom.”

 

God Will Provide

Dear Friends,

Today I was reading the story of Abraham’s great faith in Genesis 22:1-18. God asked Abraham, “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will point out to you.” Wow! What a request for God to ask of any of us. The next day Abraham obeyed God and went off on the journey. As Abraham was walking up the mountain, “Isaac said, “Father?” “Yes, my son,” Abraham replied. “We have the wood and the fire,” said the boy, “but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” “God will provide a lamb, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both went on together…” (verses 7-8).

Do you imagine what Abraham, as a loving father, was thinking? And how his heart must have been in such agony? Would God come through for him? What if God didn’t provide a lamb? Could he go through with the sacrifice? Honestly, I personally don’t think I could…

But then, at the very last minute, just when Abraham was ready to kill his own son, an angel stopped him and said, “Do not hurt the boy in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld even your beloved son from me.”

Do you feel sometimes that God waits until the very last minute to provide for you? I have experienced that feeling too throughout my life. I remember after the war in Nicaragua when we were refugees in Dominican Republic that some days we had no food left. I can imagine the worry my parents felt when they didn’t know how they would feed their six children ages 14 down to 1 ½ years old. So we prayed as a family, together. And many times, later that day, my mom would open the front door of our small apartment and there were bags and bags of groceries full of food for our family. My parents never knew who were the angels that fed us, but I learned at an early age that God Will Provide! My parents have great faith and they passed on that gift to me.

Now, during this pandemic we’re all living through, when there are no speaking events to go speak at, God is providing in other ways and the bank consulting has picked up. This year my husband and I took a leap of faith and he joined Malzahn Strategic. And then the pandemic came, just a few weeks into our new adventure. But to this day, four months into the year, God has provided each month, one day at a time.

Today, I want to encourage you to have the faith of Abraham. Do not get weary in your faith as God WILL provide for you and your family! Trust that God will find ways you have not thought about. Maybe you’ll need to use talents you haven’t used in a long time but now will produce an income for your family. Now is the time to experience God in a new, deeper way than ever before. Don’t give up believing that God is your provider and He is your source of life!

Are you looking for Scriptures to hold on to during this pandemic crisis?

Today I am sharing with you the source of my strength and joy: The Word of God. Below are specific Scriptures that I’m holding on to during this pandemic crisis. I couldn’t find better words to share with you other than these verses that are the promises God gives to “those who love Him.” The biggest question I have for you is: Do you love God? Do you love His only Son, Jesus—the only ONE who gave His life for you and me? If not, I encourage you to seek God today above ALL things.

If you already know God and have a personal relationship with Him, then there is nothing you need to worry about. These Scriptures to hold on to during this pandemic crisis are God’s promises to us that we will be okay… And remember, we are eternal beings which means that when this earthly life ends, regardless of how it ends, we will be with God for eternitySalvation is the biggest promise!

Psalm 91

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty…

3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease

6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday…

9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.

Isaiah 43:1-2

Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drawn!

Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

1 Peter 5:7

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Isaiah 26:3-4

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

Matthew 6:34

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.
Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Wherever you are I encourage you to pray. Let’s pray together and ask God to heal our nation and our world.

Dear Friends,

There are times in our lives when we struggle and there are other seasons in our lives when things are going well. During difficult times, we tend to pray and say, “one day at a time.” In fact, we tell our friends and family members to do the same when they are going difficult circumstances in their lives. But what do we do when everything seems to be going well? I have experienced this blessing lately where everything is going well in every area of my life and everyone in my family is healthy. I thank God for this blessing daily. But when business is going well, work can overtake the other areas of our lives and I’m not okay with that. I like to keep a balanced life.

This year, I started the year “feeling behind.” I didn’t feel prepared to start the New Year and felt I could not catch up from work from last year. The holidays came and went quickly and left me even more behind. Then in the middle of January I had a short trip to North Carolina and came back with the Influenza flu that left me in bed for a week. That sickness (and I’m still recovering three weeks later) put me way behind.

As I was meditating on this feeling of being overwhelmed with work (while at the same time feeling grateful for the work), the Lord reminded me that we not only have to live “one day at a time” when we’re going through difficult situations but always! In the good times and in the bad times, we must live “one day at a time” and walk one step at a time with God. We need to allow God to chart our path and we walk by faith each day.

This year I decided to pursue God at a deeper level than ever before. Therefore, I am being intentional about spending quality time with Him, in prayer, reading the Word, and simply listening to His voice. I started reading this amazing book: Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King. I’ve had this book for several years and have not made the time to dive into it because it’s a “workbook” meaning, you have to do homework, answer questions, read Scriptures, meditate on the Scriptures, write down what it means to you personally, etc. It’s a lot of work, but what it’s doing in my life is beyond measure!

After the Lord put in my heart the theme of “one day at a time,” I opened the book for the first time, and this is what I found:

Unit 1: “God’s Will and Your Life.”

Lesson 1: “Jesus Is Your Way”

Section 1: “Jesus is Your ‘Map’”— “Following One Day at a Time.”

God couldn’t have been clearer to me in telling me that is what He wants me to do—always. Here is what I learned from this important lesson that you can apply to your life as well:

  • Instead of asking “What is God’s will for my life?” simply ask “What is God’s will?” Once you know God’s will, then you can adjust your life to Him! Jesus always did the will of the Father. The focus is on God, not on your
  • In John 5:17 Jesus said: “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” God is always working and so was Jesus and, therefore, so should we.
  • We need to see where God is working and then join Him.
  • Jeremiah 18:6 says, “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” We must be like clay in the hand of the potter and allow God to mold us so we can do His will and the work He has assigned to each of us.
  • God is always pursuing a love relationship with each of us. He is the initiator and we need to respond.
  • God is always We must be alert and attentive so we can listen to what He’s saying.
  • For us to do the will of God, we need to adjust our lives, starting with adjusting our faith to the level of God’s work (the higher the job the bigger faith we need to have).
  • We will experience God at the personal level as we obey and do His will.
  • When we believe that God cannot do anything of significance through us, we’re actually saying more about our belief in God (or lack of) than us declaring about ourselves.
  • Every person in the Bible God chose to use was an ordinary person who by faith allowed God to do extraordinary things through him/her.

My new prayer to God each morning is, “What do YOU want me to do today, Lord? What should I focus on? This is what I have planned, feel free to change as you will.” And He does change plans. He helps me focus on the biggest and most important projects, tasks, or people who need me that day. The rest must wait until I have little chunks of time to work on those tasks. In the end, everything is getting done.

Today, I encourage you to seek God at a deeper level, learn to listen and obey God’s will. Then you will experience God like never before. It will change your life.

 

 

Dear Friends,

We often hear in the news about children dying of starvation in developing countries. As I pondered on this concept, I realized there are people—adults and children—right here in America who are starving for food too…spiritual food.

We are physical beings as well as spiritual beings and, therefore, we need to feed our physical bodies as well as our spirit. You may wonder, how do we feed our spirit?

There are several ways:

  • Hearing the Word of God at church or from ministries who teach the Bible.
  • Reading the Word on your own so you can learn and verify that what is being taught at church is what the Bible really says. Yes, unfortunately, you must confirm because of false teachings.
  • Sharing what you learn with other believers so you can deepen your knowledge and understanding of the Word.
  • Applying what you learned from others and from the Bible in your everyday life.
  • Spending time alone with God, in prayer. Listening to God in your spirit and bringing all your burdens to Him.

These days even some Christian churches are afraid of teaching the truth found in the Bible for fear of losing members who contribute financially. We joke saying we wish babies came with a manual. They do! It’s the Bible! That IS our guide and manual on how to live our lives from beginning to end and everything in between.

I feel compelled to do my part by inspiring and educating businesspeople not only on leadership and banking topics but also on the things of God. It’s not about me. It’s ALL about God and building His Kingdom. When you get this revelation in your heart, you will see life and others from another perspective—from God’s perspective. The sense of urgency I have in my heart comes from that revelation. It is the highest calling in my life.

Many business people, working people, people in the marketplace, however you choose to call of us who work, are walking around wounded, hurt, disappointed, betrayed, lonely, depressed, directionless, and purposeless. They are starving for spiritual food. All because no one dares to tell them the truth of the message of salvation. The Bible says in John 8:31-32, Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

You want direction in your life? Jesus is the “light of the world.” John 8:12 tells us, Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

I urge you to have the courage to seek God with all your heart and allow Him to feed your spirit. Be hungry for the things of God. You cannot go wrong and you will no longer be starving spiritually. I can personally attest to His goodness and faithfulness throughout my life. Now, it is my responsibility to share the message of the Gospel with the business people who God puts in my path, and you’re one of them. I will leave you with one more scripture today to encourage you from John 16:32-33 when Jesus said, “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

 

Dear Friends,

As a family tradition, we love to give each other lots of presents during Christmas. We enjoy more the quantity versus how expensive presents are. And now that our children are grown, they want to bless us with lots of gifts too, so our Christmas tree looks beautiful full of presents!

But more importantly, there are other gifts that are not physical gifts that we each received since we were born. These are natural abilities and spiritual gifts that God gave to each of us. The Bible describes some of those gifts in Romans 12:6-8: “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

In addition, 1 Peter 4:10 says that, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” And 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 tells us what they are, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.”

Isn’t this wonderful? I encourage you to discover your natural and spiritual gifts and use them to help others. There are also many other gifts that you can give to your loved ones that don’t cost any money. They are, the gift of:

  • Friendship: Be there for your friends.
  • Laughter: Laugh a lot with your loved ones. It is medicinal!
  • Forgiveness: Give the gift of forgiveness to someone who hurt you even if they don’t ask you for forgiveness.
  • Happiness: Enjoy and celebrate every happy moment you have with your loved ones.
  • Joy: Be joyful knowing that God’s got you regardless of the circumstances.
  • Understanding: Make the effort to truly understand someone.
  • Time: Your time is your most precious possession. Give of your time to those who matter most.
  • Listening: Listen without interrupting and be okay that sometimes you don’t have to respond.
  • Grace: Give people some grace and don’t judge them for their mistakes.
  • Peace: Provide a peaceful home to your family and a peaceful work environment to those you work with.
  • Generosity: Give of your time, money, and talents to others consistently.

But most importantly, in the Christian faith, Christmas is a time to celebrate the true gift that God gave to all of us: Jesus—and the Gospel of Salvation that tells us that Jesus died on the cross for our sins so we can go to heaven and spend eternity with Him. Here is the simple message of Salvation:

Romans 10:8-13 Salvation Is for Everyone

In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand;     it is on your lips and in your heart.”

And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

This month, if you have received the biggest gift there is—Salvation through Jesus Christ—I want to encourage you to give it forward to others! If you have not received this amazing gift yet, then I’m giving it to you right now. Today is your day to say yes!

Merry Christmas!