I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. I am so honored to have had the opportunity to share the love of God with all of you. As we get ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, I would like to encourage you to continue to forge ahead with the Pay His Love Forward Challenge to those around you. Remember, the Pay His Love Forward Challenge is you intentionally listening to God to direct you to someone who is in need of His love. However, I am also going to ask you to be intentional about one more thing over the holidays. Make Jesus the center of Christmas and not what the culture has commercialized it to be. Christmas is a time of celebration. It is a time to revere God for giving mankind the greatest Gift, His Son Jesus. Without Jesus, the world would not have HOPE. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19). Mary took time to ponder. In other words, Mary was intentional in sitting in the presence of God and communed with Him over the things that were occurring within her life. One of the saddest things I see happen to the body of Christ over the Christmas holiday is that we get way too busy for God. Our priorities shift from Him to us. We wonder what parties we will get invited to or what gifts we will receive. We compete to get our Christmas cards out right after Thanksgiving and ensure we get our cookies baked. Donâ€™t get me wrong;
those things are not bad. However, when those things become our priority, we have missed the mark.
One of the greatest gifts you can offer to another loved one is teaching him/her the importance of always making God the center of everything done within our lives.
It does not matter
the season, for He should be the constant within our lives daily. Mary treasured all these things in her heart. To treasure means to hold close, to reflect upon, and to realize what you have is precious. Each one of you has the treasured Jesus Christ within you. He is the hope of glory to those who are hurting, wounded, and feel there is no hope around them. As you forge ahead to Pay Love Forward, not only am I asking you to be intentional about spreading the love of God around you, but I pray you would present to them the most beautiful and valuable gift they could ever receive â€“ Jesus. My personal prayer is that each of your hearts are filled with His endless love and may you overflow with His hope. In Him, Rev. Melissa D. Pearce
Regardless if you’re good about making time for yourself or not, life can get a little chaotic. During the daily grind and the tough times, I’ve come to see the value of making God my first priority. It sounds simple, but it takes intentional effort on our part. When I include Him in my day and make Him my number one, things seem to fall into place.
came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked,‘What kind
That doesn’t mean life becomes perfect; it just means that I have a better grip on what really matters. Keeping God first reminds
of man is this? Even the winds and the waves
me of what’s important, and on the other
He might not always end the storm when we’d like Him to, but this squall-stopping Jesus can certainly bring you peace and balance when the chaos strikes. He grounds
hand, reminds me of what doesn’t need to take precedence in my life. There’s freedom and balance in making Him a priority. Tackling the day-to-day routine can be hectic enough, but then, there are the curveballs. The unexpected situations come rolling in and life becomes more overwhelming. I’ve been there. You’ve been there. Fear and doubt slam you mercilessly while the storms rage. Life still has to go on despite this
obey him!’” (Matthew 8:23-27).
us, keeping us calm, reminding us of the truth of His Word and the truth of Who He is. He’s our anchor, our Prince of Peace. Just like Jesus was with the disciples during the storm, He’s with us during ours. As we go throughout life, let’s hold onto our Anchor, making God our number one priority.
curveball, despite this storm. It can be
He’ll show you where your focus should be
paralyzing to say the least, but the good news
and what really matters. He’ll hold you steady during the mundane and the unexpected, and in His time, He’ll calm the
is, I know the One who can calm the storm and bring some balance in the midst of chaos. “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm
storms. ~ Katie Cline
That is the day merchants a profit for the year. cause many condemn Christmas
All to be
And then, day
“Black Friday.” begin
with a “Bah! Humbug!”
McCartney sang a song called,
“So This Is Christmas.”
One line of the lyrics asks the question, you done?”
Can you believe it? of
The first Christmas happened because Someone did something. God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. Take a look at the first Christmas
then, and what God’s response was. One of the accounts is in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 1. 1Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is
pleased.” 15When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He
lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18And all who h eard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.Bethlehem, at that time, was a sleepy little village of between twelve and fifteen hundred people. It was comprised mostly of shepherds and farmers. Their needs were few. Though they were near a main route for Jerusalem (a few miles away),
the town was
small (Micah 5:2). The census ordered by Augustus changed all of that. The small village exploded into an overnight busy, bustling, burgeoning city. There were tens of thousands of travelers trying to find shelter and seeking provisions. The crowds were enormous; the open market was a challenge extraordinaire. All the descendants of the tribe of Judah had descended on the tiny village of Bethlehem, whose name meant “House of
It was in this chaotic milieu that our Savior was born. No room for Him with mankind, He was born surrounded by the creation that needed Him least. It was for our sins that He came, yet the creatures in the stable were more aware of Who He was than
those for whom He came. Those who should have known He was coming
didn’t even care. The shepherds – outcasts, the lowest of society – were the ones to
receive the Heavenly Birth announcement. The angel of the Lord stood before them and God’s glory flooded the area. They were terrified, but the angel gave them the Good News. When the angel had gone, they went to Bethlehem to check it out. After considering this, I don’t think the shopping at Macy’s or Penny’s, or even Wal-Mart would begin to compare with the nightmare that might have been Bethlehem the night of Jesus’ birth. It isn’t in a nice “Norman Rockwell” scene that Jesus came; it was a rough and tumble world. It is in that same world, we now celebrate the coming of the Messiah. It is in that same world we are called to live out His life. Christmas is about life coming and living among us and giving us the grandest privilege of all, sharing that life with others. In his song, “So Gently He Came,” Lanny Wolfe penned these words, As gentle as the opening of a rose in the spring, As gentle as the sparkling dew that early morning brings, As gentle as the fragrance that lingers after rain, So gentle was this Jesus when into the world He came. Not with the sound of crashing cymbals, Nor the mighty thundering steps of marching men. But with a soft and gentle touch of a tiny baby’s hand Jesus knocked at the world’s heart And gently asked to come in. At Christmas time, there is a deep stirring in my spirit. God has given us the Best of Heaven. He has put us here to be light in darkness and salt in a tasteless and corrupt culture. We are to be like the shepherds. Once they knew that what they had heard from the angel was true, they told it everywhere. I am going to be a shepherd this Christmas! I’m going to share that Jesus has come to bring us freedom. That is my gift to God this Christmas. I’m gonna’ tell it everywhere! -Pastor Chuck Hamby
ave you ever had to wait for something? Perhaps it was a package you were expecting to be delivered. Or maybe you have been waiting for someone to return home from a trip. We know it’s going to happen because we have the tracking
number to our package or the flight details of our loved ones. Yet, it’s the in-between time of waiting that makes us anxious because we want it to happen now! I recently found myself there as I anxiously waited for a package to arrive. As I reflected more upon this concept, I realized we do this so often with God. There are promises God has ordained in our lives, but when we do not see things happen according to our plans, we become anxious. We fret over the very things God has spoken to us and find ourselves doubting Him. In order for us to maintain peace and hope in our seasons of waiting on God, we will need to understand the difference between God’s timing versus ours. We will also need to realize God is always working on our character, especially our faith in Him. We cannot allow discouragement and doubt to flood our hearts when we perceive God is not working in our lives. On the contrary, God desires for us to take our rightful positions of faith in Him, knowing that if He has spoken a word over our lives, He is watching to see it come to pass. We live in a society that has become demanding and instantaneous. We do not like to wait. In fact, we hate to wait. We want information now, we want our food now, and we want gratification now. It’s all about me and now. Yet, in God’s Kingdom, He has a different point of view. His timing is about Him and His plans for our lives. We need to realize there is a season for everything we will endure in life. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: (NIV-Ecclesiastes 3:1).
There are promises God has ordained for our lives. However, we must recognize He will bring each of those to fruition in His timing. He Who is Omniscient, (all-knowing), knows what is best for us. We need to realize God’s timing is perfect. His timing to release those things within our lives is not just for our own individual purposes, but there is a Kingdom plan that God is working out.
(Continued on pg.18)
-In our seasons of waiting for God, we become a testimony of God to those around us. This only happens when we take our positions of faith and watch Him bring to pass what He has declared within our live.hhhhhh God had given Abraham the promise that one day he would have a biological son. The promise was released but it did not come to fruition right way as Abraham had thought. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD (NIV- Isaiah 55:8). When God speaks a promise over our lives, we need not to rely on our own understanding. Like Abraham, he automatically assumed the child would come immediately. He was basing a lot of his information upon his current circumstances. He knew that both he and Sarah were getting older and to physically bare a child would become more difficult. Yet God had other plans. Abraham was assuming. We all have done it. Yet, assuming does more harm than good. Assuming can set our hearts up for disappointment and frustration. God does not want you relying on your own understanding or your own interpretation of a situation. He longs for you to trust Him to bring forth the end result that He desires to release to you. After ten years of waiting on God, Abraham matters
Sarah got anxious and decided to take
We’ve all been there and have done that, haven’t we?
Somehow, we believe God has forgotten about us and we decide to help Him along in the process. Rest assured, God has not forgotten about you nor does He need your help. He is more than capable of handling the circumstance within our lives without us intervening. Yet, we do because we start to fumble in fear and doubt. When God informs us that He is going to bring about something within our lives, He does this to strengthen our faith in Him. The promises He speaks into our lives are to fuel our spirits with hope. Hope spurs life into a soul. Hope builds a heart to believe God no matter what.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it has been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised (NIV – Romans 4:18-21). Many of us feel like all the odds are stacked against us, and our circumstances seem bleak and hopeless. Yet, with God all things are possible. God desires for us to position our hearts like Abraham did. Abraham still had hope and in his hope birthed forth a belief in God and not what his situation was dictating to him.
Abraham waiting first started out as
days, and days turned into months and months then turned into years but he never weakened in his faith. Abraham believed God. God desires for you and me to not waver. God needs for us to position our hearts to trust Him while we are waiting for Him to bring forth His fulfillment. Here is something else that happens while we are waiting for God; we bring glory and honor to Him. In our seasons of waiting for God, we become a testimony of God to those around us.
This only happens when we take our positions of faith and watch Him bring to pass
what He has declared within our lives. I don’t know about you, but this alone fuels my spirit with even more hope. Hope strengthens me to realize God longs to use me to be a walking testimony to those who are in my circumference. In the end, waiting on God can be difficult. Some seasons of waiting are shorter than others, but no matter the length God wants you to be fully persuaded that He is able to do what He said and has the power to bring that promise to fulfillment in your life. The more we are secure in the Father’s love the more we will realize His faithfulness towards us. Place your hope in God and wait with expectancy for He who is faithful will do it! Written By Rev. Melissa D. Pearce Enduring Hope Ministries
So how do I get this joy, this fullness of joy?
Simply by seeking His presence, by seeking
Him! When we get into His presence, or when we worship Him, we are often shown direction. Isn’t seeking direction for our life considered the ‘path of life’? How many are seeking direction and trying to figure out their journey in life? Our answers come when we spend valuable time alone with God. Set time aside each day to be with God. Open His Word, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you, play some anointed worship music, and just sit and be with Him. This is what seeking Him is!
There is an exchange that takes place as we sit,
wait, and talk with Him. His peace, His presence is manifested upon us and in us. He imparts whatever we need! He longs to be with us more than we could even imagine! He is the good news. He is the great joy for all people! He was born not only to save us from our sins but to be in a relationship with us. He is such a relational God. He was born for this and so were we! Then what happens after we are in His presence?
His right hand is extended to us. When
the Lord’s right hand is extended, it is forever! His pleasures come forth – for you! Remember what the hand of the Lord did in the desert?
His hand opened the Red Sea.
The path was made and the Israelites walked through and crossed over! We are promised that “…The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.” When we pursue Him like this, continually, His joy becomes our strength – strength
…These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, And that your joy may be full (John 15: 11). Let’s remain in Him, in this way! It leads to fullness, fullness of joy…This and this alone makes our life full and complete! From this place, this place of His presence, all else is released! Desiring to Remain in Him, Mary Beth Pecora
Have you ever been around a “peace taker?” Have you ever started out your day filled with peace and joy and then realized by the end of the day you’d lost your peace? Perhaps you noticed it was gone after you’d encountered someone who was fearful, anxious, critical, irritating, or someone who did something that offended you. The first thing we need to recognize is that nobody can ‘take’ our peace from us unless we are willing to give it away. Are you allowing someone to take away the peace God has given to you as a priceless gift?
What can we do to have true peace in all situations? God’s Word speaks on this very issue. True Peace is From God As a believer and follower of Christ, we can have a peace that the world cannot possess or even understand. It is a peace that is not determined by or affected by our circumstances. The amount of money we have in the bank; our physical health or appearance; our job status; our marital status; crises in our family, the nation, or the world cannot take away the peace that we can have in Christ. It is a peace that transcends all ‘human understanding’ (Philippians 4:7 ESV). Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27 ESV).
Jesus tells us that He is giving and leaving His peace with us. He gives it to us and commands us to not let our “hearts be troubled,
neither let them be afraid”
(John 14:27). Jesus reveals that we ultimately determine
regardless of our situation. “Let not” means that we have the ability to control whether our hearts will become troubled or fearful. Jesus knows that when we allow fear to enter our hearts, we will lose faith because fear and faith cannot coexist. Where there is no faith, there can be no true peace. Jesus came to the disciples who had locked the doors in fear of the Jewish leaders and declared “Peace be with
you!” (John 20:19
ESV). Whatever your situation is, He is declaring the
same thing to you today! We can find ourselves full of fear about so many things, including what a person may think of us; our own or a loved one’s health diagnosis; our co-workers’ or boss’ expectations of our performance; or in a panic due to national or world crises. However, we need to recognize that it is our
choice whether we will allow our hearts to be troubled over a situation and to think fearful thoughts. If that is the choice we make, we will be giving away our gift of peace that we have from God. Peace Comes from Believing:
That God is Who He says He is.
That God’s Word has power.
That God can do what He says He can do.
That all things are under God’s authority.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13 ESV). Peace Comes from Obeying God also tells us that peace comes through obeying His commands. In His great love for us, God desires for us to have peace, and He gave us many commands that He knew would lead us to quiet, peaceful confidence in Him, not in our own abilities. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever
ESV). Notice in Isaiah 32:17 what God tells us about ‘the fruit’— or the result— of righteous living; it will be peace. The effect of that peace will be quietness and confidence forever. What a contrast that is to when we choose to disobey His commands which results in confusion, chaos, uncertainty, and ultimately destruction. My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you (Proverbs 3:1-2 ESV). Your Mindset Can Bring Peace For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6 ESV). God is telling us plainly in this verse not to focus our thoughts on the things of the world. He warns us not to think the way the unbelieving world thinks; not to desire what the unbelieving world says is important; and not to follow secular advice, which can be foolishness. Why?
Because God loves us, and He wants what is best for us. He
knows that we will not have peace but death if our focus is on this world’s priorities instead of on God and His priorities. We need to set our minds on the things of the Spirit which
alone can bring life and peace. Here are some examples of how we can do this:
Pray. Read, Study and meditate on God’s Word Memorize scriptures. Get in a mentoring relationship with someone further along in her spiritual walk.
Join a small group Bible study.
Listen to Christian music.
Read Christ-centered books/magazines.
Ask God to replace your selfish, worldly desires with His perfect desires for your life.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you
26:3 ESV). When the Spirit Leads, You Will Have Peace. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12 ESV). When our minds are focused on the things of God, the Spirit of God will lead you in peace. Peace is an attribute of God’s character and is a fruit that God desires for every believer to have. You can know the Spirit of God is leading you when you are at peace. The peace of God is not dependent on the outcome or circumstance, but is a character trait of God who lives in the heart of the one who believes in Him and has chosen to follow Him. This peace transcends all understanding because it is always available regardless of what is happening in the moment. Do not give away this peace that guards your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7).
Make the choice today to believe God, obey God, follow God, and keep your mind fixed on the promises of God. He is a wonderful counselor and the prince of peace Who will never leave you or forsake you. Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all (2 Thessalonians 3:16 ESV). By Jamie Shaver, Co-Founder of True View Ministries
While standing in the gap for others to come to Christ may seem like anything but simple, I believe God would have us rest in these S.I.M.P.L.E. Tips as we look forward to the day they make that glorious decision for themselves!
Love, love, love. More than likely you were wooed to Christ by His love, so lavish it
on others! Sometimes in our angst, we can get a religious and/or â€œpushyâ€? mentality. (I speak from experience.) When people come to Christ, asking His forgiveness and making Him the Lord of their lives should be a decision that stems from a revelation of Who He is and what He did for them. It should be hearts responding to His heart, and not by pressure or obligation. By forcing or scaring people into making that decision, we rob them of authenticity and the freedom that comes by willingly accepting Him and His offer of salvation. 2. Pray. We are able to come boldly to God's throne of grace (see Hebrews 4:16).
for your loved ones! Certainly we are to make our petitions known to God (see Philippians 4:6).
But also seek His heart about those you love. Learn His character. Then you will
be able to declare His goodness over their lives! 3. Realize Who is responsible. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Paul talks here about planting the seed of faith in those
who listened to him preach. Apollos did what God called him to do in by continuing to love and edify the ones who heard Paul preach. But God is the one who turns people's hearts to Him. Don't get caught up in striving to save them. Focus on your relationship with God so that you can be a good witness, ever ready to share the hope you have (1 Peter 3:15), and live out the truth in love. Let God work on their hearts; He will be their Savior, not you. 4. Be patient.
It's the hardest thing to do because salvation is the most important thing,
but stand firm on Who God is and let Him encourage you! When doubt or frustrations creep in, continue to turn to God with your earnest cries for those you love. He listens and He'll move. Remember, He loves them more than you do! Not giving up on anyone because God hasn't, ~Jamie Clawson
P.O.H. is a publication of Enduring Hope Ministries.