It has always been difficult for missionary families to be together at special times. Often hearts ache for the joy and happiness that unites loved ones at special times for special reasons and seasons.
The headmaster of a school for the children of missionaries knew that feeling very well. His parents were missionaries and he spent many birthdays alone as well as many holidays. He knew that one of his students was having a particularly difficult time one Christmas and decided to visit him in his room.
After talking for a few minutes he asked, “John, what would you like for Christmas this year?”
Looking at a picture of his father on the wall he said, “I would like my father to step out of that frame.”
That’s what Jesus did. He “stepped out” of the Old Testament “frames” that prophesied of His coming. He became the “real thing” when he walked among the people, laid His hands on the sick and restored them to health, fed the hungry with bread that would last throughout eternity and gave the water of life to those dying of thirst.
The Son of God willingly and voluntarily made Himself “nothing” when He assumed a human body and a human nature and became the “real thing.” Jesus is God seeing us through human eyes, hearing us with human ears, touching lives with human hands and loving us with a human heart. In Jesus, we see God with us!

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for sending us the “Real Thing.” Through Him we know how much You love us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:5-11 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 
A prominent biographer was asked to write a history of the Duke of Wellington. He was assured that he would have full access to everything that remained in his home as well as everything that had been written about him previously.
He began his task with great enthusiasm and interest. He studied where he went, what he did, his favorite places to visit, his family background and who his friends were. He searched through trunks and diaries. And although he had a fairly good understanding of the Duke, he was not satisfied with his research.
One day, while searching through a drawer, he came across his checkbook. He began to study what the Duke spent his money on and was finally able to put together a complete picture of who he was.
“May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation,” the Apostle Paul wrote. “Those good things that are produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” The fruit of our salvation is certainly reflected in how we invest the gifts that God has given us – especially our money!
Our true character, who we really are, reveals the depth and intensity of our relationship with God. If we maintain a right relationship with Him and draw our spiritual nourishment from Him, others will find Him in everything we do. They will find His fingerprint on every page of our lives.
Prayer: Lord, as the author and finisher of our salvation, we ask You to be the beginning and end of our lives. May our lives reveal our submission to Your will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:11…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Mr. Williams always took great care to encourage his students. Each day he would challenge them to do and be their best.
One Monday morning he decided to begin the week asking each student to share their goals in life.
“Matt,” he asked the sad looking child in the front row, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“Possible,” came the forlorn reply.
“What do you mean, ‘possible’, Matt?” he wondered.
“Well,” he said in a hopeless voice, “my Dad’s always saying to me, ‘Son, you are impossible.’ So, someday I want to know what it’s like to be possible, I guess.”
Jesus on many occasions dispelled the “myth of the impossible.” On one occasion He said, “Nothing will be impossible for you.” On another, He promised, “With men this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible.” Then again He said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Paul said, “I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” And he did! He was a warrior who became the ultimate witness. He was the one who approved the stoning of Stephen yet he became one of God’s most famous saints. He was the one who demonstrated to us that freedom comes from surrendering our plans to the plan that God has for us. He was the one who first proclaimed that forgiveness and eternal life are available to anyone who believes!
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to look beyond what we are to what we can become when we make ourselves available to Your transforming power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Each morning Josie and her Mom prayed together before she left for school. One morning after they prayed, Josie noticed a look of distress and concern on her Mom’s face.
Concerned, she said, “Mom, we just prayed together and thanked the Lord for everything we had and then told Him about everything we needed. I thought that if we prayed we wouldn’t have to worry. I didn’t know that we could do both.”
Worry and faith are actually incompatible. If we have faith there is no need to worry and if we worry we do not need to pray. One seems to cancel out the other.
Many would argue that it is impossible not to worry at least some of the time. But listen to Paul: “Don’t worry about anything,” he said. “Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and then thank Him for all He has done and will do.”
Maybe that’s the key to not worrying: When we thank God for all that He has done for us, we can see His hand at work in our lives. And rather than worrying about what might or might not happen, we can see what has happened and know that God is protecting us and providing for our every need.
Paul advised the church members at Philippi to turn their worries into prayers. He wanted them to have a strong faith and trust and believe in the Lord for all things. If our faith and trust are weak, worrying won’t help.

Prayer: Lord, increase our faith to exceed the size of our fears and our trust to be large enough to combat the uncertainties of life. May we become steadfast and sure. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
A friend of Clark Gable took her young son to his home for a visit. As they were about to leave, the boy pointed to the Oscar that Gable had won and asked, “May I have this?”
“Sure,” answered Gable, giving it to the child.
“Give it back immediately,” shouted the mother in shock.
“Oh, no,” said Gable. “Keep it. Having the Oscar around doesn’t mean anything to me. Earning them does.”
Focusing on the future has many benefits. Paul boldly declared that “I am still not all I should be! But I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead I strain to reach the end of the race.”
Paul had great reasons to want to forget the past – he persecuted Christians and even had them killed. He held them in great contempt creating fear and anxiety among them. But, he also had accomplished many outstanding things for Christ when he wrote these words. In all reality he could have “stayed stuck” for one reason or another: either the wrongs he had done from feelings of guilt or false pride for his service to his Lord.
These are two traps every Christian faces: our failures and our successes. Either one can destroy what God has called us to do. We must always move forward!
PrayerHelp us, Father, not to ruin the present or the future by staying stuck in the past. You have called us to do great things through Christ. May we be faithful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Karl Wallenda was one of the world’s greatest tightrope performers. In 1978 he fell to his death.
Some time later his wife was speaking of the tragedy. “All Karl thought about for three straight months prior to his death was falling,” she recalled. “It was the first time he had ever thought about that, and it seemed to me that he put all of his energies into not falling rather than in walking the tightrope.”
Paul warned us about focusing on the wrong things. In his letter to the Philippians he advised them to “look forward to what lies ahead. I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God through Christ Jesus is calling us to heaven.”
The future is in front of all of us. And often it is not the future that causes us problems, but the past. We can’t feel sorry about what problems may happen in the future; we can’t become discouraged about mistakes that might occur in the future; and we can’t regret sins we may commit in the future. But we can become overwhelmed with problems and mistakes and sins that occurred in the past.
When we allow the past to interfere with our future we will take our eyes off the “prize” that God has waiting for us. We must never relax our efforts or lower our standards if we want to be all that we can be through Christ our Savior. If we do, we lose the prize.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to keep our eyes upon You and the prize that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. May we allow no one or no thing to distract us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
A mother gave her son two beautiful apples. One, however, was larger and shinier than the other. Placing them in his hands, and wishing to teach him about sharing, she instructed him to “Give your little sister her choice.”
A short time later, she noticed that he had kept the bigger one for himself. So, she asked, “Why didn’t you give your sister her choice?”
“I did,” came the reply. “I gave her the choice of the little one or none at all. And she took the little one.”
There is a lot of selfishness even in the smallest of us. Size has little to do with whether or not we are self-centered or God-centered. It is easy to keep rather than to share, to get rather than to give, to hoard rather than to help, to protect rather than to promote.
Paul reminds us that “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Prayer: Help me, Heavenly Father, to realize that the needs of others are an opportunity for me to give to them as You have given to me. May I be sensitive to others who are without the necessities of life, and share with them out of the abundance You have given me–especially Your salvation. In Your Name, Amen.
Scripture: Philippians 2:1-8 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others…
His old bicycle was worn out. He begged his dad for a new one.
Finally it was his birthday. When he came home from school that afternoon, he discovered a beautiful new bicycle in the garage. With great excitement he rode down the street to show it to his best friend.
Soon he returned home and waited for his father. When his dad arrived, he began to cry, “George got a new bike, too. It has a light on the handlebar. It’s better than mine.”
Jealousy! It begins at birth, rages in most hearts, and for some, lasts a lifetime.
In the Bible “jealousy” is sometimes described as the opposite of love and thankfulness and the enemy of gratitude.
It is the “attitude of gratitude” that exposes our faith in God. Often we only feel secure in what we have, not Whom we have, Jesus Christ. When times are good, bank accounts growing, the economy flourishing, and jobs secure, we rarely notice what others have.
As Christians we need to look at our lives through God’s eyes. Looking at our lives through His eyes may enable us to find joy in the smallest event, happiness in the smile of a child, satisfaction in a job well done.
Embracing our lives just as they are and being thankful for what we have will enable us to give up the struggle to acquire what we want but do not need. Where we are and what we have is exactly the way things are to be. Rejoice and be thankful!
Prayer: Help me, Lord to accept all that I have as gifts of Your goodness, especially my salvation. Remove jealousy from my heart and envy from my mind. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture: Philippians 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
Charlie Brown struck out for the fourth time in the same game. In deep despair he cried out, “Lucy! I’ll never make it. All of my life I’ve dreamed of playing in the big leagues. But I know now I’ll never make it!”
“Charlie,” she answered, “choose an immediate goal. When you go out to pitch, see if you can walk to the mound without falling.”
What’s in a goal?
GUIDANCE: Establishing goals provides a process that enables us to accomplish worthwhile projects in life. Great things can be achieved when we know what we want to do. Goals enable us to make plans, solve problems, make decisions and set priorities. Then, at the end of the day, we can sit, review our progress or lack of it, redirect our steps and move forward.
OBJECTIVITY: We all have days when we feel like giving up. But if we have a goal in front of us, we will be able to see progress and see that the struggle is really worth the effort.
ACCOUNTABILITY: If we truly want to make a difference in this world we can find an accountability partner who will work with us to encourage us to “get where we want to go.” Being accountable is difficult without someone looking over our shoulder.
LABOR: Anything that has value and worth will require our hard work, patience, perseverance and prayer.
Prayer: Father, You have given each of us a reason for living and a purpose to accomplish. May we use the talents You have given us to achieve great things for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:13-14 …Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
When Harlan Sanders turned forty he realized that he could not point to anything in his life that could be considered a success. Whatever he attempted to do, failed. One day someone said to him, “Harlan, life begins at forty!” It jolted him in so much that it awakened his faith and he determined to begin again.
After a time of prayer he decided to open a service station. Shortly after its opening he added a luncheonette. One of his meals was fried chicken. To make it tastier he came up with a “special” batter and called it the Harlan Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken. People enjoyed it so much that they soon recommended it to their friends. It brought him fame and fortune and the Governor of Kentucky made him a “Kentucky Colonel.” Soon people everywhere were buying the “Colonel’s” Kentucky Fried Chicken.
By God’s grace and the Colonel’s faith, what had been a life of failure and frustration became a life with a future and personal fulfillment. But his new life did not begin at forty. It began when God became the main ingredient of his life’s “recipe.”
When God becomes the main “ingredient” in our life, everything will become new. With Him as the centerpiece and His Word as our guide, we can overcome any obstacle or difficulty that stands in the way of our success.
Prayer: Let us always remember, Lord, that all things are possible when we trust in You and desire to honor You with the gifts and talents You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13 I can do anything through him who gives me strength.
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