December 1 REWARD OF OBEDIENCE
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.
We all know that actions have consequences. Our actions are judged, and they are either rewarded or punished by parents, teachers, employers, and law enforcement. We much prefer reward over punishment. There is no mystery to reward. Obedience brings reward, and disobedience brings discipline. The Christian life is an exact parallel. We all prefer reward over punishment. The result is linked to obedience. We all choose either reward or punishment when we choose either obedience or disobedience. Name an area of your life that you need to obey so that you can be rewarded?
1 John 2:1-17
Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord.
We are taught very early the importance of communication. If a child is tired or hurting, they need to let their parents know. If a child sees another person hurting, they are to let their parents know. This communication leads to those children getting the help they need. Without communication, you are on your own. A Christian knows the benefits of sharing our needs and struggles with God. We also should share them with each other. God will provide all the help we need if we will just ask. What areas of our life are you needing God’s help?
1 John 2:18-3:6
December 3 RESTORATION
After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.
We are not perfect. Try as we might, at some point, we will let our family and friends down. How a person handles his imperfections is the key to the results. If he fails to acknowledge his faults, it will lead to problems. Those who admit their wrongs are restored. This restoration is a perfect mirror of the Christian walk. All make mistakes. Those who admit their faults and ask for forgiveness are restored. All others stand on the wrong side of the law. What area of you life are you needing to ask for forgiveness right now?
1 John 3:7-24
December 4 WAITING
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.
An aspect of life that is often overlooked is waiting. Some things only work if you wait until the right moment. Hurry them, and they fail. Knowing this and believing this will help us wait for the right moment. Then after waiting, we get the joy of seeing it work. For a Christian, waiting is important as well. We must wait and trust that God will bring things to pass in His timing. Then when God brings them to pass, we get the joy of celebrating. What are you waiting for?
1 John 4:1-21
To this end, like an earnest wrestler, I exert all my strength in reliance upon the power of Him who is mightily at work within me.
No one person can do everything all the time. So there are times he must stand and wait and rely on someone else to do whatever needs to be done. This reliance and dependence on one another is the essence of teamwork. Without the ability to rely on each other, the team breaks down into individuals. As followers of Christ, we have to learn reliance as well. The great thing about this is that God is dependable. He always does what He promises. The challenge is to learn to rely on Him instead of on ourselves. What areas of your life are you currently not relying on God?
1 John 5:1-21
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
An employee or student who tries to focus on others’ responsibilities can often be so focused on that they fail to take care of their own responsibilities. Many times the philosophy is to keep things simple. This ensures understanding and keeps people from overthinking. A Christian likewise must not try to concern himself with everyone else’s responsibilities. That is God’s job. He needs to focus on his own obedience. God has made it clear what He asks us to do. What areas of your life is God speaking to you about right now?
2 John 1:1-13
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
As a Christian approaches life, his emotions must be at peace. Excitement and anticipation are positive emotions and help to improve performance. Worry, fear, and dread are negative emotions and usually lead to poor performance. This mirrors the Christian walk. When our lives are filled with worry, fear, and dread, we tend to make poor choices and withdraw from challenges. When we put our trust in the Lord and are walking at peace, our lives reflect His greatness. What steals your peace?
3 John 1:1-14
Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.
1 Kings 8:61
Successful people live a life of dedication. They are no stranger to saying no to food and sleep, to say yes to working out and pushing their bodies to the limits. This dedication helps them to make the most of the talents and abilities they were blessed with at birth. A follower of Christ could learn much from their example. By saying no to things of the flesh and yes to things of the Spirit, we begin to develop the gifts and abilities the Lord blessed us with. Then we can become what He planned all along. What things in your life do you need to say “no” to?
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13
All teams tend to form distinct personalities, with the personnel filling different roles. One thing that makes the team strong is stability. Having a person you can count on every time to go out and give their all makes the team stronger. Without this, a team will struggle. As a follower of Christ, He is the one that we can count on every time He says He will do. He always keeps His Word. Knowing this, we take the courage to face life’s challenges without fear. What fears come to disturb your peace?
December 10 FAVOR
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Children understand the importance of favor. Whether it is the favor of their parents, other siblings, or even their grandparents, it is essential to them. Favor allows them opportunities that they would never have enjoyed otherwise. They never want to lose the favor they have. As Christians, we have favor with the God of the universe. Not that we command Him, but that we are given opportunities that we would never have had. Knowing His favor helps us to value keeping it. What does living in God’s favor mean to you?
The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor, and life.
A wise athlete knows the benefits of keeping the team’s rules. The rewards of this are favor and usually increased playing time. By not following the team’s rules, you incur a different type of reward. Players that break rules can lose playing time or be kicked off of a team. There are rewards for being a follower of Christ. There are also consequences for not following Him, even though we can’t get kicked off of His team. Name some things that you are doing to help God’s team grow?
December 12 UNITY
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!
A necessary ingredient of a successful family or company is unity. Unity does not mean that everyone looks alike or does the same thing. It means that they each take their unique abilities and talents and put them together for a common vision and purpose. This ingredient is also important among Christians. God created us differently with the wisdom of knowing that when we work together in unity, powerful things will happen. Unity happens when we all work together for His vision and purpose. What are some things that you can do to bring about unity?
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
We all know what it is like as a child waiting to be picked for a team during recess. It feels wonderful to be chosen for the team. To be selected, last is a lonely feeling. The feelings of rejection are powerful and often difficult to overcome—we all long for the moment when he is chosen. The Christian understands this moment as well. If you are a Christian, you have been chosen! You have been picked to be a part of the winning team for all eternity. How has knowing you are chosen changed your life?
THE EXTRA EFFORT
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
For anyone wanting to succeed, it is normal to give extra effort. They know they can’t make themselves taller, smarter, or extraordinarily gifted. What they can do is work hard to get the most out of the talent they do have. By giving extra effort, they can sometimes outperform those who have more ability but don’t put out as much effort. A Christian should live the same way. We can’t do anything about the abilities we don’t have. We are responsible for using the gifts that we do have. By giving more effort, we please the one who gave us the gifts. Name some areas of your life that you can give more effort to?
For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to your name.
2 Samuel 22:50
A special moment during any performance is marked by the audience standing up and cheering. These moments are usually the highlights of the show. The moments of cheering motivates the performers to give more. While God cannot give more than He already has or work any harder, He is blessed by our praises. He is always worthy of our standing and cheering. He has done so much for us. He deserves more applause than we can give in one lifetime. Name some things in your life you should be praising God for?
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.
Students quickly learn that they are accountable to their teachers. At some point in a child’s school life, the teacher corrects them for not doing something right. And even more severe is when you are called to his office to discuss something you have done. This is not usually a pleasant experience. Similarly, we are all accountable to God. He never yells at us, but we have often grieved His heart. We may not have to go to the office, but we will all stand before Him one day. How well this goes depends on what we do now. Name an area of your life that needs some change to be pleasing to God.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.
We all know but don’t often talk about that we all have different levels of skills and abilities. Some are just better at doing certain things. This ability also translates into those with more skill receiving more attention and praise than those with less. As Christians, we know that whatever abilities God has given us, and He deserves all credit for them. We can work hard, but we will never be equal to Him. We should gladly give Him the praise/credit because we would be in trouble without Him. What areas of your life are you giving God praise for?
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
Most people are cautious by nature. They know if you put confidence in the wrong person, they will let you down when moments get tough. Many times trust is earned in day to day activities. A Christian should likewise be careful about who they put their trust in. God is always trustworthy. The more we follow Him, the more reliable we should become. We don’t want to be the one to let others down. Name some areas of your life that you need ot become more reliable in.
December 19 RESPECT AND PRAISE
Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;
In this world, you praise those whom you respect. Respect and criticism do not belong together. It is easy to see respect when you hear how one person speaks of another. Our words reveal the attitudes of our hearts. In the Christian realm, one should expect to hear praise for the Lord. Often, some lack respect for the Lord; therefore, they question Him instead of praising Him. One thing is sure. If you respect the Lord, you will praise Him. What things do you have in your life to praise God for?
A GREAT GAME PLAN
Commit your works to the Lord
And your plans will be established.
Anyone who has planned out a party or vacation enjoys nothing more than watching that plan unfold and watching things come together. He admires the wisdom in putting it together and knows that those involved had a big part of the success. As Christians, we know that God has a great plan and that it will lead to victory. What we don’t often stop and think about is that plan includes us completing our assigned tasks. We play a role in God fulfilling His plan, or we are in His way. What are some roles that God have given you?
Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.
1 Chronicles 16:8
It seems natural when we see certain athletes perform that we applaud and shout our appreciation for their efforts. It would be harder to sit still than it is to cheer them on. In our hearts and minds, they have earned this praise. Similarly, we should applaud and shout our appreciation for our God. He has done much for us and continues to overlook our failures and pours His goodness into our lives. It should be easier to praise Him than to sit still. What things in your life are hard to praise God for?
POWER OF BELIEF
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Athletes don’t start with a dazzling array of moves and sharp skills that amaze us. Sometime, somewhere, somebody took the time to teach and encourage them to develop the talent that maybe no one else had seen. What we admire is the finished product. Like that beginning athlete, God knew what He had put in us and what we could become if we let Him teach us. God believes in what He can make of you if you let Him. He knows what you can become. What changes is God wanting to make in your life?
AGONY OF DEFEAT
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.
One thing every person experiences at some point is the agony of defeat. There may even be tears. Defeat can be crushing. Some people face failure and come away with the resolve to continue to fight for victory.
Often the most significant victories come after the most bitter defeats. Even as followers of Christ, we sometimes taste defeat. It can either make us bitter or better. We need to rise with a steely resolve to face the challenges ahead of us. One day we will taste the sweet taste of victory. Name a situation in your life that has challenged your faith in God.
December 24 A NEW DAY
For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Citizens in third world countries often long for a new day. They have often heard promises of a new day. What they want to see is the reality of that day unfolds before their eyes. They want to celebrate. There was a time in history when God’s people had heard of a new day when things would be different. They longed to see and celebrate that day. When it was time, God announced it to people. And they came and celebrated the birth of a King. How are you keeping Christ in the center of your Christmas celebrations?
December 25 SAVIOR
The God of my rock; in him will I trust: [he is] my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.
2 Samuel 22:3
Sometimes a person is called the Savior of a team, whether it be a sports team or a business. Many times this is before they have done anything. The expectation is that they will deliver the team or business from mediocrity and make them winners. It doesn’t always work out. But one time, it did. He was called Savior before He did anything. He came to deliver us from our sins and set us free. It has worked out wonderfully for those who will accept Him. When did you accept Christ as your Savior?
December 26 WELL ROUNDED
And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
A well-rounded person works at more than just developing his physical skills. The ability to relate to others is key in playing team sports. Character is an important key to maintaining any success our physical abilities can give us. This is true for Christians as well. We need to develop more than just our spiritual gifts. We need to develop our walk with God, our faith, our giving, as well as our character. We should be maintaining our physical bodies as well. Name the areas of Character that God is asking you to work on.
“Heed instruction and be wise,
And do not neglect it.
A good student knows the importance of listening. In college, the professor only says something once and expects you to know it. One key to listening is knowing that it is a one time opportunity and focusing on the speaker. The same is true in our walk with God. When He speaks, we should be listening. Then we should do what He asks us to. He sets the example in that He listens to us when we pray. We should focus on Him knowing that this is a one-time opportunity. What is God asking you to do right now?
December 28 DISCIPLINE
For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,
All children, at some point, face discipline from their parents. Whether it was for not working hard or breaking a rule, discipline is sure to come. How they respond to it makes all the difference. Knowing that the parent wants them to be their best, they should accept it as a gift from a loving parent. Christians struggle with the same issues. God’s discipline is always for our benefit. What areas of your life has God disciplined you in?
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.
We all know that there are things that we shouldn’t do. Things that will impact their lives in a negative way. But we still have to choose not to do what they shouldn’t do. Many people have destroyed their lives and careers by doing things they knew not to do. For the Christian, the situation is the same. We need to put boundaries around our lives and stay away from the things we know not to do. The choice is up to us. What things do you need to avoid to have a more Godly life?
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
A teacher or a coach’s job is to help that student or player be all he can, which will make their lives better. To do this, he pushes, prods, sometimes yells, and demands more than the player often thinks he has. All this to benefit that person. A wise person responds with gratefulness to this difficult training. God is even more committed to helping us be all that He created us to be. He will ask and teach a person to do more than he thinks he can do. He does all of this so that we won’t look back on our lives with regret. What is God teaching you right now?
December 31 A NEW THING
Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.
We all know that with a new season, some things will be different. We have to learn to adapt to new things because old things are no longer being used. Anticipating and even looking forward to these new things help us to learn quickly and perform better. For the Christian, a new year is a time to prepare themselves with anticipation for the changes that are sure to come. Resisting the changes will only keep us stuck in the past doing what hasn’t worked. What changes is God asking from you in this New Year?