“Christmas has lost its meaning for us because we have lost the spirit of expectancy. We cannot prepare for an observance. We must prepare for an experience.” – Handel H. Brown.    

The Christmas season is all about preparation, but it is also a time of thankfulness and wrapping up the year. The Christmas season brings a heightened feeling that something extraordinary is coming or something special is about to happen while celebrating the miracle and mystery of Jesus’ birth. Every year, we look to find true enjoyment in the Christmas season and to soak up this magical time with family, friends, and neighbors as we celebrate and to thank God for giving us the greatest gift ever:  His only Son, Jesus. Unlike regular days, the anticipation builds up as we psych ourselves up to make this the best Christmas ever.

Like a child on Christmas Eve caught between the joyful memories of the Christmas that was while waiting with breathless anticipation for the Christmas about to be. It is a time for making room and priming our hearts to treasure Christ. And yet, we know all too well what it is like for December to blur by and to arrive on the doorstep of another new year.  This is the time to reflect on how the birth of Jesus shook the world. God came to us. The Creator entered His creation. The Infinite became an infant. The Giver became the gift.

If you are familiar with the Christmas story, you know there was no room in the inn for Joseph and Mary when it was time for Mary to give birth. Instead of a cozy room, Mary had Jesus in a stable. While there was no physical room for Jesus that Christmas, we can give Christ spiritual room this Christmas. The famous Christmas hymn “Joy to the Word” includes the lyric: “Let every heart prepare Him room.” Hopefully, we don’t just gloss over those words.

This Christmas season, make it a priority to prepare room for Christ. One of the most significant ways we can prepare room is by keeping the purpose of Christmas central. When we keep the purpose of Christmas central, we approach Christmas with a worshipful mindset. We view Christmas as ultimately not a time to receive gifts but to extend worship and praise to our King born in Bethlehem. And as we keep the purpose of Christmas central, we embark on the season with joy.

Don’t let the commercial craze that can accompany Christmas keep you from focusing on Jesus and spending time with Him. Rather use this time to draw close to Him.

Amongst the hustle and bustle the holiday season often brings, we can forget to focus on our relationship with Christ. When we fill up our time during the holidays with holiday-related events and activities, we can essentially fail to prepare Him room. Maybe all God wants for Christmas this year… is you. Just you.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What can we do to prepare for Christmas this year? 


“One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God,” – Psalms 62:11 (ESV).

As Hurricane Michael tracked across Florida and the Southeast United States, it knocked out power to an estimated 3 million people. Extended power outages may impact the whole community and the economy when the electrical power goes out unexpectedly. Life changes dramatically until the power comes back on.

The Apostle Paul, of course, didn’t have the luxury of waiting for the power company to turn the power back on. He depended on a different power supply. His energy and power were supernatural. Paul operated under the power of the Holy Spirit, relying on Him to power his every action. “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”  – Colossians 1:29 (ESV) Paul “toiled” and “struggled” but he was never striving in his strength alone. John Piper said this: “God does not work instead of our working but through our working. God does not energize instead of our having energy; He energizes our energy.”

In his prayer in Ephesians 1:19-21, Paul prays that we might “… understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.”

There are no outages when it comes to God’s power. It is power without limit. It never falls short of accomplishing what God has designed for it. And if that were not enough, this immeasurably great power that lives and abides and pulsates inside the soul of the believer, And that power is on display everywhere. Romans 1:20 reminds us of that fact: “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” And we have that power.

Paul reiterates this point in his prayer in Ephesians 3, where he asks that God would”… according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (3:16). Paul concludes this prayer with these famous words: “ Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.  Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

The power of God is essential for every facet of Christian living. Experiencing the power of God the Holy Spirit is not an exceptional, rare, or sporadic phenomenon but is intended by God to be the routine, ordinary, daily reality in the life of every believer. This power isn’t merely available to you this week or next year. God intends for you to live in it and draw from it every moment of every day.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Have you experienced the power of God in you?
  2. What can we do this week to better tap God’s power supply?


“But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” – 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Change is something we all need. It is an ongoing part of life. With its constant flux, life demands adjustments to our schedules and plans. Essentially, change is the new norm. But people’s spiritual lives call for more than slight changes to the calendar. Real change is a process, not a destination. So we as followers of Jesus need transformation, but not a one-time act or occurrence. Genuine transformation is God–achieved and God–sustaining, and is it a continuous, in-process transformation?

Our culture tends to look at transformation as a one-time thing. We see a problem, develop some action steps to fix it, and continue working on it until it is fixed. Then we consider it fixed. For Christians, it is an ongoing process. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” God wants to transform us every moment of every day.

In a world that thinks we are all locked into an endless chain of cause and effect, 2 Corinthians 3:18 gives us incredible good news. We are free to change in ways the world cannot imagine. Too often, we accept that God doesn’t have the power to transform us continually, and as a result, we are who we are. We live as if the Holy Spirit is a God who only shows up now and then to shake things up and retreats back into the heavens. The Holy Spirit is constantly ready to lead us in love and transform our lives.

So what does continual transformation look like? How do we live in sync with the Spirit, who can constantly change us from the inside out? Romans 12:1 says, “…I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Continual transformation will come when we decide to stop living for ourselves.

You see, when we live for ourselves, we naturally take control of our own lives and, therefore limit God and His desire to transform us. But, when we seek to be a “living and holy sacrifice” to God, our hearts are open to what the Spirit is doing and saying every day. If you want to be continually transformed by God’s powerful, life-changing love, you have to choose every day to center your life around the will and desires of God.

Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

Our transformation in Christ is a work in progress. “We are changed into his glorious image” is a journey of transitions and degrees and a continuous process.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Pray and ask God to continually transform you. 
  2. What needs to change in you for that transformation?


“When He returns is not as important as the fact that we are ready for Him when He does return.” ― A.W. Tozer, Preparing for Jesus’ Return: Daily Live the Blessed Hope.

If we accept  A.W. Tozer’s statement that when He returns is not as important as the fact that we are ready for Him, how do we prepare for the second coming of Christ?

The return of Jesus Christ could be imminent; that is, His return could occur at any moment. We, with the apostle Paul, “look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2:13).  Knowing that the Lord could come back today, should we stop what we are doing and wait? There is a big difference between knowing that Jesus could return today and that He will return today. Jesus said, “No one knows the day or hour…” (Matthew 24:36). We don’t know when He will return. But until that day, we should continue serving Him.

The Second Coming is a motivation to action, not as a reason to cease from action. But we also need to be prepared to wait. The first Christians longed for Jesus to come in their lifetime. Believers today feel the same way. But we also need to wait for Christ’s promise, “I will come again” ( John 14:3 ESV).

Jesus compared this waiting time to the experience of servants whose master had left them in charge of his home and property while he was away on a long journey: “You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning” (Mark 13:35–36).

Do you want to be prepared for Jesus’ second coming? Then live like His first coming mattered. Jesus spoke parables about His return. In Luke 19:11-27, He told about a nobleman who traveled to a far country to become king. This nobleman called ten of his servants and “divided among them ten pounds of silver.” He said.”Invest this for me while I am gone” (v. 13). After an unspecified duration, the nobleman returned as king and summoned his servants to give an account of their faithfulness. The first two servants had been productive with what was entrusted to them. But another servant had done nothing. He wrapped money in a cloth and hid it. His mistake was not acting on what he professed to believe. He professed something about his master but didn’t live by his profession and lost his reward (vv. 21-23). The lesson for us is that God expects all His servants to grow and use what they have been given as much as possible. The silver or the money represents the gifts, talents, and opportunities God gives us to save and love Him and others.

The apostle James reminds us to “…be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near”  (James 5:7–8).

Discussion Questions:

  1. Practically speaking, how can we be totally “Ready” for the return of Jesus?
  2. What practical and simple ways can we invest our time, talent, and treasure for eternity?


“The second coming of Christ will be so revolutionary that it will change every aspect of life on this planet. Christ will reign in righteousness. Disease will be arrested. Death will be modified. War will be abolished. Nature will be changed. Man will live as it was originally intended he should live.” ― Billy Graham,

Every year, there is some sort of radical change happening in our cities, states, country, and around the world.  A recent study found that most people would rather know for certain that they are about to receive an electric shock than not be able to predict it. This confirms what we have all probably experienced to be true in our lives. We fear the unknown and want to feel in control of our lives and circumstances.

Fortunately, we know that no matter what is happening around us right now, God is in control. In Romans 8:35-37 Paul says: “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

Isaiah 40:28-29, the prophet cries out to the people of Israel and says: “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”

Despite what is happening around you, be encouraged. God has this. He wrote the ending, the beginning and everything in the middle. He doesn’t fall asleep on His watch, and He isn’t ignorant of what is happening in the world He created. We have hope in God because He knows the end of the story. We don’t have to know it because He does. He holds the future. Like all things, they have a beginning and an ending. Since God’s will is perfect, things are beginning to shift and move into the stage He has set for the ending.

We don’t know how much time we have left here on Earth, but that doesn’t mean we live without hope. We live in the light of eternity. One day, when we meet Jesus in heaven all of our pain, sickness, sorrow, sadness, stress, and grief are going to end. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4).

This world is not all that there is. There is something better yet coming. There is something worth living for beyond this life: Jesus Christ. We must allow Him to fill our hearts, remove our fears, strengthen our resolve, and prepare for His return. Jesus said in the book of Revelation, “Yes, I am coming soon!” (Revelation 22:20).  Our goal should be to live with eager anticipation and expectation of Jesus coming again.

This is not just a fairytale. This is reality. This is the end of the story. This is a picture of where all of history is headed.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think about the Second Coming regularly?
  2. Does the Second Coming of Jesus make a real impact on your everyday life?
  3. What are some ways you can grow concerning living in the light of eternity and the Second Coming?


Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’- James 2:18.

James is perhaps one of the most profound books in the Bible. It is written to believers and challenges us to understand how to live the Christian life. One may say, “Hold on for a second. I am a believer; I have asked Jesus to forgive me for my sins. Is that not enough?” The answer is yes and no.

First, we must remember that we do not receive salvation because of our works. Works save us, but it is the work of Christ. God the Father planned our salvation in the past, but it was accomplished when the Son of God took on flesh and walked this earth. The core of His saving work is the two central events in Jesus’s life—His death and resurrection. His perfectly sinless life is counted as our perfectly sinless life. His death becomes our death, His resurrection our resurrection. Through his works, Christ has accomplished what we could never do for ourselves. When we come to Christ, sincerely confessing our sins and asking Him to save us, He does just that.

But we also need to understand that it is one thing to believe in God and another to obey Him and do what He asks us to do. James makes the stunning observation that the demons believe in God; that is, they know that God exists and even tremble in fear with that knowledge (James 2:19). When James talks about having faith in God, he means trusting God in the manner of our living. Faith is not merely a ticket to a future heaven; it is the ability to begin living for God in the present. God gives the gift of faith so we can begin living in new ways. Faith is more than a decision to believe; it is a willingness to act. Simply hearing or reading the Bible only gets us so far. We can mark up our Bible, but the question is whether the Bible marks us. If a person thinks he is spiritual just because he hears the Word of God, not because he does the Word, he is deceiving himself. The value of the Bible does not consist merely in knowing it but in obeying it. To be a doer of the Word means to do more, take action, and be proactive. We do this out of gratitude for what Christ has done for us.

 Being a doer is taking the Word of God and allowing it to impact our lives, so it changes us. It changes the way we speak, think, and live. It changes the way we treat our spouse. It changes the way we act in business. It changes everything about us. If we are to use the mirror of God’s Word profitably, we must gaze into it carefully and seriously. No glances will do. We must examine our hearts and life in the light of God’s Word.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to you to be doing good works? 
  2. Why is it so hard to move from a hearer to a doer?
  3. What can we do to move further into the doers column this week?


“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Imagine for a second what the very first Thanksgiving was like. Imagine the challenges present in 1623. The pilgrims left everyone they knew and everything that was familiar. Approximately 100 voyagers endured sickness and storms on a perilous journey across the Atlantic. The first winter was brutal. Yet, when the harvest season arrived, they set aside a day to give thanks. Despite the hardships, they found there was much to be grateful for. They chose to celebrate and thank God for His blessings even though life was difficult and their blessings were few.

There are stories in the Bible that mirror the Pilgrims’  thankfulness; one of them is found in Luke 17:11-19. In this passage of scripture, we read a story about a man whose heart was focused on Jesus, not just focused on his blessings. It’s the story of when Jesus had compassion, mercy, and grace for ten lepers on the roadside and healed each one of them … but only one man was so thankful that he took the time to return and say thanks. The leper surely still had lots of problems in his life, but being grateful, he heard Jesus give him the greatest blessing when He said in Luke 17:19, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

What about us? Are we thankful for what we have and what Jesus has done in our lives rather than being concerned with what we don’t have? We, too, have much to be grateful for. Every day, we can thank God for the great things He has done. Giving thanks does not have to be a grand gesture or complicated. It can be as simple as offering a prayer of thanks.

We should be thankful because God is worthy of our thanksgiving. It is only fitting to credit Him because “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father,”  (James 1:17). Expressing thankfulness helps us remember that God is in control. Gratitude, then, is not only appropriate; it is healthy and beneficial to us. It reminds us of the bigger picture that we belong to God and have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

Thanksgiving is awareness of who God is and what He has done. It does not mean we don’t realize that there are difficulties. It just means that we stand upon a greater reality. God is on the throne and deserves praise and our gratitude.

Before we gather around the table this year, gobbling up turkey and a slice of pumpkin pie, let’s be intentional about giving thanks no matter what. We all have a lot to be thankful for this time of year. But not only should we give thanks during the holidays, but we should also give thanks to God every day of the year. Each day brings a new opportunity to be grateful and celebrate what God has done.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How is it possible to give thanks even in hard times?
  2. Does thanking God lead to praising God in your life?
  3. For what are you most grateful today?


“Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.” – James 5:7.

Imagine for a moment that you are running an errand, and you drive by a local church that has a sign on their marquee that reads: “Jesus Christ is coming.” What would your thoughts be when you see it?  What message do you think the church is trying to convey? Is it meant to encourage those who pass by?  Was it designed to instill fear? Should we be afraid?

All too often, the fact that Jesus is coming is seen as a threat to scare sinners into thinking twice about their sins. But when did “Jesus is coming!” become more of a threat than a blessing?  “Jesus Christ is coming!” is the heart of the Gospel.  He lived, He died, He rose, He is coming back.  The Good News isn’t good news without that last part because life on this earth is as good as it gets without His return. To be clear, when Christ returns, He will come to judge every person who has lived on this earth. Acts 17:31 reads, “For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.” But the bottom line is that Jesus’ coming is good news.

When Jesus returns, there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain.  He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. There will be no more abuse of children, no more trafficking of humans, and no more homelessness. Everyone will come to see and know that God truly is “…our merciful Father and the source of all comfort”  (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Isaiah 35:5-6 says, “And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!…” No injury or disability will be too difficult for the Creator  to heal. There will be no more fear and no more destruction.

All this will be only the beginning of a beautiful future beyond human imagination! Jesus Christ will establish the utopian world humanity has always longed for. “His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity” (Isaiah 9:7).

Heaven is our future home. That’s where our citizenship is; we’re only travelers on earth. A lifetime here will seem like a mere breath compared to our time in eternity. Whenever you read a Bible passage that describes some heavenly scene or activity, put yourself in the picture because that will be your reality if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. The pearly gates and the streets of gold are not just a fairy tale. You will one day walk through those gates, step on that street, and come face to face with Jesus.

And that is the best news ever.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What will happen when Jesus returns? How do you think the world will respond to this event?
  2. Read Titus 2:12-13: What does it mean to be “watching” for Christ’s return?  
  3. How should our lives be impacted by the knowledge that Jesus could return at any moment?


“When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” – Mark 10:47.

Just one of the great stories in the Bible is the story of Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus is a blind beggar whom Jesus healed. On his way out of Jericho, Jesus was surrounded by a crowd when, from the roadside, Bartimaeus called out to Him to be healed. The following events tell us something profound about God’s nature and shed light on the type of faith and prayer that pleases God.

As Jesus walked by him, Bartimaeus heard who was passing and called to Him: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The people told Bartimaeus to be quiet, but he kept calling out even more loudly and persistently than before. This is further proof of his faith. Jesus responded to Bartimaeus’s cries by telling His disciples to call the blind man over. Blind Bartimaeus jumped up and went to Jesus, and Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51). His answer “Rabbi, I want to see.” Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Blind Bartimaeus instantly recovered his sight and followed Jesus (vs. 52).

When Bartimaeus heard Jesus was passing by, he already knew that Jesus had healed others. He probably thought, “Maybe, just maybe, Jesus will heal me too.” Bartimaeus was feeling hopeful, but it wasn’t quite faith yet. Faith is not wishful thinking.  We need to demonstrate our faith. Bartimaeus shouted and refused to stop.  People around Bartimaeus tried to quiet him. They told him to shut up. They tried to stop his faith from getting what he wanted. But that only caused Bartimaeus to shout louder. Bartimaeus wouldn’t let anything keep him from receiving his sight. He got louder and louder. And guess what happened? Jesus stopped and called for him.

Jesus has whatever we need. We, like Bartimaeus, must put our faith into action. Genuine faith is what we do. So how do you know if you have real faith, one that will stand up to life’s biggest pressures? Take a look at your actions and see if they back up what you say you believe. People today long to see the kind of action-orientated faith that comes from seeing people live out what the Bible says by putting their faith into action.

When we put our faith into action, our lives will reflect the life of Jesus. This is what a relationship with Jesus is all about. It may not be easy. But we do not do it alone. If we trust Him, if we place our faith in Jesus, He will be with us, and He will empower us to do His work – He will make it possible for us to put our faith into action.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the barriers to doing something every day that requires faith?
  2. How does your faith go beyond mere words? Why is a mere intellectual agreement to the truth not enough?
  3. How is your faith being expressed through deeds? In what ways does your life match up with what you say you believe?


“Optimism is a wish without warrant; Christian hope is a certainty, guaranteed by God himself. Optimism reflects ignorance as to whether good things will ever actually come. Christian hope expresses knowledge that every day of his life, and every moment beyond it, the believer can say with truth, based on God’s commitment, that the best is yet to come.” – J. I. Packer.

Faith and hope — we need them both. But what exactly is the difference between them? Many Christians ask about faith—how to have it, grow it, maintain it—but not many ask about hope. It is easy to get the two mixed up.

Faith is confidence or trust in something or someone not based on proof (believing in things unseen). Hope is an optimistic attitude based on expectation or desire. So what is the difference? Faith says whatever you are hoping for is here now. Hope says there is a chance of it happening sometime in the future.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.“ 1 Peter 1:21 says, “Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

Micah was a prophet and author of the Book of Micah in the Old Testament. The book of Micah paints a picture of a just yet merciful God. Like a shepherd, God will rebuild Jerusalem, defeat evil forever, and send a messianic King to rule over the people and bless all the nations. But at that moment in time, things were not going well. God’s people were surrounded by enemies that were asking, “So where is the LORD— that God of yours?” Even though Micah was filled with “misery” (Micah 7:1) and surrounded by people who had rejected his call to return to the Lord, he firmly put his hope in God. He did not look at the circumstances but focused on the Lord’s faithfulness.   Micah knew that God was with him no matter how difficult his circumstances were. Micah refused to be discouraged: “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (7:7 NIV).

We may go through threatening situations that can cause uncertainty, anxiety, doubt, or fear. But if we depend on God, we can know He is the source of hope and rejoice in Him and the hope He promises us. If we have hope, we can be filled with joy and peace, no matter what happens.

Today, remind yourself to rejoice in the hope God has given you. Place your hope in the living God and His eternal power to save and make everything right in His time, in His way.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does a hope-filled life look like?
  2. Through Christ, we have hope. How can that be evident in your life this week?