An excerpt from today’s daily bread… Happy New Year!
All of my life I’ve had to ‘be ready.’ As a child, I had to be ready for dinner by washing my hands. As an adult, being ready for important responsibilities continues to be an ongoing reality. But I’ve come to realize that nothing is more important than being ready for our reunion with Jesus.
As we consider the possibilities that Jesus could return this year, let’s be sure that we are ready. Let’s strive to be pure as He is pure, anticipating the day when tears and sorrow, pain and death will all be replaced with the everlasting joy of His presence. Joe Stowell
I see that progress and failure are both part of the journey. I gain insight from past struggles that help with issues I am currently facing. And, most important, journaling shows me how God has been faithfully working in my life.
Journaling may be useful to you too. It can help you see more clearly what God is teaching you on life’s journey and cause you to reflect on God’s faithfulness. Dennis Fisher
(link to the journal on CYF)
Just the other night, I was watching a Christmas movie on GMC. ‘Tis the season for Christmas movies on a number of channels! The movie was not very interesting, to be honest, but I kept flipping back to it because there was nothing else on TV worth watching. There came a part in the movie where an older gentleman read the Christmas story while a young girl acted out various parts. Once the play was completed, he said one of his favorite parts of the Christmas story was actually a part that was seldom read – the part about Simeon. He then proceeded to the following passage in Luke:
“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.’
And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.’” Luke 2:25-35 NKJV
Hearing this made me pause to think: What would it have been like to be Simeon? That’s when I knew I kept switching back this movie for a reason. This was the part that God intended me to hear. He wanted to get a message to me, and to you.
Now, the Bible doesn’t tell us WHEN it was revealed to Simeon that he would see Jesus before he died. What if the Holy Spirit spoke that to him when he was 30 years old? He could have taken that one of two ways: either Christ is coming soon and I’m going to die young, or I’m going to have to wait a LONG time for this promise to be fulfilled.
At first glance, neither prospect seems “fun”, I have to admit. Simeon heard the voice of the Holy Spirit give him this wonderful promise… but how would he know when “the time” had come? I believe that as the years went by, he continued to practice hearing and obeying the Holy Spirit. Each time the Spirit spoke, Simeon obeyed. Simeon probably figured that when the time came for this promise to be fulfilled, he didn’t want to second guess that is was God who had spoken to him.
When the Spirit led him to the temple at the appointed time, it turned out that he was being led there not only so he could see the Lord’s Christ with his own eyes,
but so he could release words of blessing over Jesus and also Mary and Joseph. In fulfilling His promise to Simeon, God used him to bless Jesus’ earthly parents and communicate a specific message to them.
God is a connecter and a multiplier. Allow the story of Simeon to sink deep in to your heart, pondering how it applies to you and how it applies to the promises God has spoken to you.
But, Simeon was “just and devout”, you might say. So are you, if you’ve been washed by the Blood of Jesus, accepting Him as your Lord and Savior.
“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” 1 Corinthians 1:30 NKJV
Now that we’ve got that point settled, consider what it is that the Holy Spirit has been speaking to you. What has God promised to YOU? Are you waiting expectantly for it? Are you endeavoring to follow the Holy Spirit in your daily walk, fine tuning your listening skills?
Are you willing to do what it is He says to see the promise come to pass? Like Simeon, will you follow the Holy Spirit as He leads you to the temple, or wherever that place is for you? At the exact day and in the exact hour? Will you be ready, in the midst of the fulfillment of His promise to you, to reach out and be His hands and His mouthpiece to bless others?
The promise that God made to Simeon may seem extra special, because it involved the birth of His Son, Jesus. But as sons and daughters of God, He treats each and every promise He makes to us the same way. It is important to Him that they come to pass in the right way, at the right time, and that we are prepared to receive them.
Listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit is vital. Reading the Word of God is vital. Prayer and worship is vital. It strengthens our relationship with God, which allows us to trust Him more fully and deeply. It gives us a certainty that can be obtained no other way.
Jesus came, as is said in Luke, to be “a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” Allow that light and that glory to penetrate your heart afresh and anew this Christmas.
The story of Simeon is my story. It’s your story. It’s the story of a person who dared to trust God.
Merry Christmas from all of us at Celebrate Your Faith!
At Thanksgiving, we oftentimes reflect on WHAT we are thankful for. We think of our family and friends, the freedoms we enjoy living in America, the roof over our heads, the food on our table and the clothes on our backs. We may even think of how God saw us through a difficult time this past year, and we are thankful for His hand of mercy and deliverance. All of these things, and countless others, are definitely things we should to be thankful for.
The way to honor God and walk in His will is to be thankful in EVERY circumstance. Notice all the little things that God does for you – that close parking space, that favorite song that comes on the radio, that super sale on the item you’ve been eying for months, the kind service you received in the checkout lane, that cute dog walking down the street that made you smile, how you avoided that accident just in the nick of time. When we notice these things and stop for a couple of seconds to thank God, we are showing Him our dependence and reliance on Him, our love for Him. We’re letting Him know that we acknowledge His hand of blessing in our lives. He doles out these blessings in hopes that we will indeed seek Him.
That’s why I want to challenge you, that even more than being thankful for the BLESSINGS, let’s be thankful this year for the BLESSER! I believe that being thankful for the BLESSER, above all else, is the greatest and highest way we can fulfill the command we are given in 1 Thessalonians!
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV
You see, every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17). But we have access to those good and perfect gifts through our Savior, Jesus Christ. He died to give us ACCESS to God the Father. It’s through this relationship with Him that we experience the blessing that adds no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22). We experience the FULLNESS of redemption and salvation – in our bodies, souls, spirits, relationships, finances… every area of our lives.
But what about those people in the world who have no relationship with God and yet they seem to be blessed and prosperous? Well, I would propose that a portion of what they are experiencing is the mercy of God towards them… His GOODNESS… which is for a purpose:
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 NKJV
God desires that ALL men are led to repentance and into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We are told to give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endures forever (Psalm 107:1)!
Jesus Christ is the ULTIMATE gift that’s been given to us. He is our Lord and our Savior. He is our Redeemer and Friend. He is the Restorer of our souls. He sent the Holy Spirit, who is our Comforter, our Helper, and our Teacher (1 John 2:27). We are never left without a solution to any problem. We are comforted in situations that would attempt to discourage us and try to steal our joy.
Let’s be thankful for the PERSON of Jesus Christ, who never leaves us nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). Let’s be thankful for the PERSON of the Holy Spirit, who guides us into all truth (John 16:13). Let’s be thankful for the PERSON of God the Father, who gives us eternal encouragement and good hope (2 Thessalonians 2:16).
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5 NKJV
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from all of us at Celebrate Your Faith!
The San Damiano Cross is the large Romanesque rood cross that St. Francis of Assisi was praying before when he received the commission from the Lord to rebuild the Church. The original crucifix was painted by an unknown Umbrian artist in the twelfth century.
The San Damiano Cross is rich with symbolism based on the elaborate imagery contained in this icon. The cross is called an icon cross because it contains images of people who have a part in the meaning of the cross.
Below are some selected highlights along with reflection Scriptures to consider.
The central element of the San Damiano Crucifix is the figure of Christ. It is not the body of a corpse, but of God Himself, incorruptible unto eternity and the source of life, radiating the hope of the Resurrection. Christ is a figure of light dominating the scene and giving light to the other figures. Christ stands upright, not nailed. The eyes of Jesus are open: He looks out to the world, which He has saved. He is alive, the one who is eternal.
“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’” John 8:12 NKJV
The Hand of the Father:
From within the semi-circle at the very top of the Icon, He whom no eye has seen reveals Himself in a benediction. This blessing is given by the right hand of God with the finger extended – the Holy Spirit. The Father gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to all because of the merits of the Christ’s Passion.
“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” Acts 1:4-5 NKJV
The Astonished Angels:
Around the crossbar of the cross, there are two groups of angels – animatedly discussing the scene unfolded before them.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV
The Centurion of Capernaum:
To the right of the Cross stands the Centurion. He holds a piece of wood in his left hand, indicating his building of the Synagogue (Luke 7:1-10). The little boy beyond his shoulder is his son healed by Jesus. The three heads behind the boy show “he and his whole household believed” (John 4:45-54). He has extended his thumb and two fingers, a symbol of the Trinity, while his two closed fingers symbolize the hidden mystery of the two natures of Jesus the Christ. “Truly He is the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).
“Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your son lives.’ So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, ‘Your son lives!’ Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, ‘Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.’ So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, ‘Your son lives.’ And he himself believed, and his whole household.” John 4:50-53 NKJV
Also to the right of the Cross stands Mary Magdalene, she who loved the Lord so sincerely that she would not even abandon Him at His grave. Listening intently to Mary Magdalene is Mary Clopas, another woman who came to the tomb with Mary Magdalene, to anoint the dead body of the Lord. These two women typify an intense and courageous devotion that persists no matter how difficult life may become.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NKJV
In the red border around the cross are scrolls that recall tendrils of vines. They bring to mind Christ’s admonition that He is the vine while we are but branches. To bear fruit, we must remain in Him.
“‘I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.’” John 15:5 NKJV
Near the border of the Cross on the right, just below the level of Christ’s knees, you will find a small rooster. Firstly, this recalls the denial of Peter, who wept bitterly, and reminds us that we should not be presumptuous of the strength of our faith. Secondly, the rooster proclaims the new dawn of the Risen Christ, the true light (1 John 2:8).
“Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” 1 John 2:8 NKJV
“But for you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” Malachi 4:2 NKJV
For further explanations into the meanings of these and many other symbols and icons on the San Damiano Cross, please visit any of the following websites:
Celebrate Your Faith sells Italian crafted replicas of the original cross in sizes ranging from 3-29 inches. These are reproductions of the original that hangs in Santa Chiara (St. Clare) Church in Assisi, Italy. Along with this, we have many other Wall Crosses.
Sundown Wednesday, October 12 thru Thursday, October 20.
The festival of Sukkot is instituted in Leviticus 23:33-44. The Festival of Sukkot begins on the fifth day after Yom Kippur. It is quite a drastic transition, from one of the most solemn holidays in our year to one of the most joyous. Sukkot is so unreservedly joyful that it is commonly referred to in Jewish prayer and literature as the Season of our Rejoicing.
Sukkot is the last of the three pilgrimage festivals. Like Passover and Shavu’ot, Sukkot has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as the Festival of Ingathering.
The word “Sukkot” means “booths,” and refers to the temporary dwellings that we are commanded to live in during this holiday in memory of the period of wandering. Sukkot lasts for seven days. (Reference: Judiasm 101: Sukkot)
From an agricultural perspective in ancient Israel, Pesach [Passover] corresponded to the planting season, Shavuot [Pentecost] corresponded to the grain harvest, and Sukkot corresponded to the fruit harvest. When you planted your crops in spring, you do not yet rejoice because you were uncertain about how the harvest will turn out. And when you harvested your grain at the start of summer, you might have rejoiced that you now had bread in hand, but you would still be uncertain about the success of your fruit crops. Total joy would come after you had harvested all of your crops in the fall, and thereby received sustenance and provision for the coming year from the LORD.
From a spiritual perspective, Sukkot corresponds to the joy of knowing your sins were forgiven (during Yom Kippur), and also recalls God’s miraculous provision and care after the deliverance from bondage in Egypt (Lev. 23:43). Prophetically, Sukkot anticipates the coming kingdom of the Mashiach Yeshua wherein all the nations shall come up to Jerusalem to worship the LORD during the festival (see Zech. 14:16). Today Sukkot is a time to remember God’s Sheltering Presence and Provision for us for the start of the New Year. (Reference: Sukkot – the Feast of Tabernacles)
Click on the link for additional information on the Jewish Feasts.
“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39 NJKV
In a message recently broadcast by Joseph Prince Ministries, Pastor Prince talked about the significance of Jesus’ words while he was in Jerusalem on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus was speaking of rivers of living water, which are moving and refreshing. The living water here refers to the Holy Spirit.
A very important distinction highlighted from Scripture was this:
Forgiveness was given to you because Christ was crucified. The Holy Spirit was given to you because Christ was glorified.
During the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests on the last day, the “great day”, take a container and go down from Mount Moriah to the pool of Siloam to collect water, which they bring back and pour out as they say Psalms 118.
“Save now, I pray, O LORD;
O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.”
Psalm 118:25 NKJV
They are saying to God – send now prosperity, send now salvation – they are asking God to send rain the coming year. Salvation is Yeshua in the Hebrew… and who appeared? Jesus! He is the answer to the cry of “send now prosperity, send now salvation”.
To order this message in its entirety, visit the Joseph Prince online store for Sermon CD #36.
Click on the link for additional teaching on the significance of Jesus in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Feasts are important to the Jewish people, but they also teach many things and reveal Jesus to us as believers.
Whether Jew or Christian, please join us in celebrating this important time in our shared heritage. Let it be your personal Season of Rejoicing!
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Psalm 33:12 NIV
The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks conjures up many memories and emotions in the hearts of every American and those around the world. It was a day where we saw unprecedented attacks on our homeland.
In the wake of 9/11/2001, many in our nation turned to God for comfort and solace. It was an “awakening” of sorts for many people. And so it is appropriate that after we pause to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in those attacks, that we turn to our family, friends and neighbors and offer encouragement for the future.
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 NLT
As we reflect on the events of 9/11/2001 and everything that has happened as a result of those attacks, we need not tremble in fear or be anxious about the future when our trust is in the Lord God.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 NKJV
“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 KJV
Let this Day of Remembrance followed by the National Day of Encouragement be a renewed call to prayer for our nation, our state, our city and our neighbors. Let it also be a call to prayer for our troops serving both at home and around the world.
God’s Word offers us an encouragement for prayer in Colossians 4:2 where it exhorts us to “devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” (NLT)
Let us reflect with a heart of honor, and let us look forward with a heart of hope.
May God bless each one of you, and may God Bless America!
Father’s Day is a time set aside to show special honor to our fathers, or men who are father-figures in our lives. A father is someone who is there to offer love and support to his children – be they biological children, step-children, or “spiritual” children that God has placed in his life for him to nurture.
Being a good father begins with having a solid relationship with Jesus Christ. He must be the center of every communication, affection and discipline that a man gives to his children. A good father must first and foremost be a Man of God.
“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:11-12 NKJV
A good father demonstrates to his children what it means to have faith in God and trust Him for everything we need. He is a reflection of God to his children. It’s an awesome responsibility, but one that can be carried out with dignity and love and respect when he looks to God for direction and guidance.
All this is not to say that fathers need to be perfect. But a father who is humble and teachable is the best father a child could ask for.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV
If your father needs some encouragement to strengthen his relationship with God, this is a wonderful time to give him some tools to help him do so. Give him the web address for Bible Gateway’s 100 most-read Bible verses.
Give your father a fresh look at the Word of God with this NLT In His Image Devotional Bible.
This Father’s Day, above all, be sure to tell your father how much you love him and appreciate him. Remember those godly men who have influenced you and thank them for everything they have done for you.
Celebrate Your Faith has many wonderful gifts for fathers. Pick out a special treasure to honor him today!
A hero, as defined by Noah Webster’s Dictionary of 1828, is “a man of distinguished valor, intrepidity or enterprise in danger; as a hero in arms”. The modern-day Merriam-Webster Dictionary places the first meaning of a hero as a mythological or legendary figure. I’d like us to hearken back to Noah Webster’s definition on this Memorial Day as it reminds us that REAL heroes live among us, and have died for our freedom.
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday which honors and commemorates the men and women who died while in military service. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.
Salute or commemorate a loved one serving in the U.S. military by proudly wearing a military cross or medal. These pendants also make treasured gifts for someone serving in the military to assure them that you are praying for them and that their protection is found in God.
The mini-book entitled “Pray for Our Nation”, published by Harrison House, includes this prayer for Veterans:
Father, in the name of Jesus, I thank You for our veterans. I thank You for their willingness to risk all so that our nation might dwell in peace and safety.
May they find the honor and recognition they deserve.
In the name of Your divine Son, I pray that You will heal the physical and psychological wounds some of these veterans have suffered. Bring peace to those who mourn the loss of comrades.
Father, I pray that our nation would learn to respect and acknowledge those who have served their country well.
Scripture Reference: Romans 13:7, John 14:17, John 16:33
Visit the US Memorial Day website for more information on the history of Memorial Day.
Make this Memorial Day about more than barbeques with family and friends, about more than the start of the summer travel season, about more than a 3-day weekend. Take time to truly remember and thank God for the ultimate sacrifice many men and women have paid. Pray for their families and loved ones. And take time to remember and thank the men and women who currently serve in all the branches of our military.
Celebrate Your Faith has many thoughtful and meaningful gifts to honor our service men and women. Check out our Memorial Day Gifts section to find the perfect one today!
May 15, 2011 has been marked as Internet Evangelism Day, which is an annual worldwide focus day for digital evangelism. The entire month of May is also designated as Digital Evangelism Month.
The Internet is a powerful tool for reaching people all over the world. It may seem very obvious how people all over the world have the ability to access the Internet and as such, the Internet can be used to bring people to a personal relationship with Jesus. One site having amazing results all over the globe, including many countries where the Gospel is not easy to preach via traditional avenues, is Global Media Outreach. They minister to people in an important 3-step process.
1. Lead them to the Savior
2. Nurture them in Faith
3. Connect them to Church
Many ways exist to share your faith digitally: Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites; blogs or message board posts; email and text messaging (just to name a few).
The website blog.ourchurch.com has some amazing ideas for how to share your faith online in its article 20 Ways to Share Your Faith Online.
Internet Evangelism is such a multi-faceted concept. Sure, there are websites you can either direct people to, or that they find on their own. But, Internet Evangelism is transacted every day through many avenues.
Take Celebrate Your Faith, for example. We are an online retailer of Christian gifts. These gifts are purchased by people for the purpose of encouraging believers or sowing a seed into an unbeliever’s life in hopes of introducing them to Jesus as their Savior. In this gift giving process, the Internet was used as an evangelism tool.
In addition, CYF is steadfastly dedicated to promoting the preaching of the Gospel through direct monetary support of missions and humanitarian efforts. So, all the gifts that are purchased (for the purpose of evangelism) are also funding missionaries that travel all over the world to tell people about Jesus and His saving love. Again, the Internet is being used as an evangelism tool.
Another example could be sending a text message to a friend, confirming with them a time and place to meet up for dinner. That night, they decide to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. That interaction was also facilitated by digital media.
God is so creative with how He reaches people. He created the ideas for all the technology we have at our fingertips today. We as Christians need to harness its power and use it to point people back to Him.
Join us on Sunday, May 15 in using the Internet to reach out to a lost and dying world.