Make room.

The Christmas story, found in chapter 2 of the Gospel according to Luke, is all too familiar. So familiar, in fact, that we are likely to miss out on some of the most interesting and amazing aspects of the account of Jesus’ birth.

One thing that has always stuck out to me is that the Savior of the world was born in a manger. Jesus, who would go on to perform miracles, teach us how to live, and eventually die on a cross for our sins, humbly entered this world and likely spent his first night on earth in a feeding trough.

Luke 2:7 (KJV) tells us, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

It makes sense that the inn was full, right? I mean Caesar Augustus decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire, and it’s a good bet that travelers from all over were passing through cities and villages on the way to their ancestral towns in order to register.

However, had the innkeeper known that Mary was carrying the Messiah, I have a feeling he would have made room. If any one of the guests had a clue that the Savior was about to be born, I’m pretty sure they’d have given up their room for Mary and Joseph.

This Christmas, I’d like to encourage all of you to make room. Make room in your life for those with whom you don’t always agree. Make room at the dinner table for that neighbor who you know is spending Christmas alone. Make room for that family member you haven’t spoken to in three years.

But most importantly, make room in your heart for Jesus. When Christ was asked which commandment was most important, Matthew 22:37 (NIV) tells us, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”


The Lord is always with you.

When Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, God had a message for him; be strong and courageous. In fact, the Lord says this to Joshua on three separate occasions.

When God says something once, we should listen. When He says something three times, it’s obvious that it’s a message that the Lord wants to hammer home.

The Israelites had just lost their leader Moses after he had guided them for 40 years in the wilderness. In Joshua 1:2 (NLT), God says to the new Hebrew leader, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them.”

While Joshua was surely nervous about taking over the reins from his mentor, God promises to watch over the newly appointed leader of the Israelites.

Joshua 1:5 (NLT) reads, “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.”

Sometimes we can feel as though God is long way off or that He doesn’t hear our cries for help. But take heart, if you walk in lockstep with the Lord, He is always with you.

Joshua 1:9, one of my favorite verses in the Bible says, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

That’s a promise! The next time you’re afraid or discouraged, remember that verse of Scripture. Be strong and courageous.

Don’t go to bed angry.

I think most married couples have heard the phrase, “Don’t go to bed angry.” Did you know that the phrase is actually found in the Sacred Text?

In Ephesians 4:26-27 (NASB) we’re told, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

I actually prefer the way The Message renders these verses. “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”

Jesus’ half-brother takes the subject a step further in James 1:19-20 (NASB), “Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God.”

Admittedly, I struggle with anger. When I have an idea of the way a certain something should go, and it doesn’t go that way, my immediate reaction oftentimes is anger.

However, the Bible tells us very clearly that anger is a sin. James 1:21 writes, “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.”

There is a difference, however, between getting angry when the grocery store only has two checkout counters open on the day before Thanksgiving and carrying deep-seated resentment from one day to the next.

Jesus even equated anger to murder. In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says, “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!”

When Jesus speaks, we all better listen. Perhaps we’d be best served to take Paul’s advice from Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT). The apostle writes, “ Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”

Cast aside your anger. It does you no good. It allows Satan to gain a foothold, which is all he needs to derail your life.

The many names of Jesus.

You’ve heard of Jesus referred to by many names. The Son of Man, the Savior, the Prince of Peace, Immanuel, the Messiah, and countless others.

John 1:1-5 says, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

In John’s Gospel, “The Word” is a reference to Jesus Christ. When John writes, “The Word was God”, he is saying that Jesus is deity.

Jesus is also referred to as the God Man; fully God and fully man. Like men, Jesus slept, ate, and felt pain. But like God, He had the ability to perform miracles, heal the sick, and walk on water.

Colossians 1:15-16 (NLT) tells us, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.”

Who was Jesus? Jesus was the Son of God who came as a servant and who will soon rule as a king.

Everyone has a boss.

Do you have a difficult and unfair boss? Who doesn’t? Would it surprise you to know that God has laid out a way for you to deal with such unjust treatment at the hands of one who has authority over you?

In Romans 13:1 (NLT) Paul says, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”

Paul also writes to his son in the faith, in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NLT), about interceding on behalf of all people by praying for those in positions of power.

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.”

The Apostle Peter also speaks of submission to authority in 1 Peter 2:18-19 (NASB).

“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are harsh. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person endures grief when suffering unjustly.”

That passage is sure to ruffle some feathers, isn’t it? Essentially, Peter is telling us to submit to authority whether the person(s) in charge is kind or cruel. Why? The next two verses, courtesy of the New Living Translation, tell us.

“Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.”

Jesus Christ was blameless, and yet He endured the worse type of treatment at the hands of the Pharisees, religious leaders, and the Roman soldiers.

If our Savior submitted to the authority of God, shouldn’t we do the same?

The next time you’re tempted to rebel against authority, remember that God has placed that person in a position over you. If you endure the unfair treatment with patience, God is pleased.

He who brags lacks wisdom.

We’re very impressed with ourselves, aren’t we? We like to show off, to gloat, to heap praise on ourselves.

If we’re not satisfied with the amount of adulation we receive from others, we’ll just let them know about our accomplishments ourselves.

A simple post to our social media account or a group text message is all that’s necessary to get our exploits recognized.

It feels good to be recognized, right? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated when something that took a lot of time and a lot of effort on my part went unacknowledged.

But God sees everything we do, even when others don’t. And if your motive is pure, your Father in heaven will reward you.

Look what Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NLT) says about bragging. ‘This is what the Lord says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches.

But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Later in 2 Corinthians 10:17-18 (NLT), the Apostle Paul does a beautiful job of summarizing Jeremiah’s words from the Old Testament.

‘As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.’

Don’t rely on the admiration of men and women to guide your steps, but instead allow the Holy Spirit lead the way.

Don’t be distracted.

The Bible is littered with warnings. Too many times we don’t take God’s warnings seriously, and the results can be catastrophic.

Paul gives us a warning in Ephesians 5:15-18 (NLT), “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit…”

Many people who read that will just see the phrase “drunk with wine” and check it off their list. But the passage is much deeper than just allowing yourself to become intoxicated with alcohol.

Paul says, “Be careful how you live.” That’s a warning. The apostle then gives the command not to live like fools, but instead allow wisdom to mark your path.

Getting drunk with wine is merely an example of living wisely rather than foolishly. We could use that same example today, but there are many others as well.

Don’t spend your best days in front of a screen, because that will ruin your life. Don’t entertain your ears with profanity-laced music, because that will ruin your life. Don’t spend 60-plus hours per week slaving away at your job, because that will ruin your life.

That particular section of scripture closes by saying, “…be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In short, Paul is saying, rather than distracting yourself with the things of this world, allow the Holy Spirit to take up residence in your heart. It’s time to heed God’s warning.

God humbles the proud

The book of Daniel is unquestionably my favorite section of scripture in the Old Testament. While most of those who think of the book recall the story of Daniel in the den of lions, there’s so much more to this ancient text.

For example, there’s an excellent lesson on humility. The Babylonian ruler, King Nebuchadnezzar, at the peak of his rule, was humbled by God.

Daniel, who had the ability to interpret dreams and visions, revealed to Nebuchadnezzar that he would be driven from human society and live among the wild animals. Daniel exhorted the king to change his life.

Daniel 4:27 (NLT) reads, “King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.”

But the king did not heed Daniel’s advice. According to the Scriptures, twelve months to the day after the interpretation of the dream was given to Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king stepped onto the roof of his palace and proclaimed his excellence.

Daniel 4:30 (NLT) recounts what Nebuchadnezzar did. “As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’”

At they very moment, God humbled Nebuchadnezzar. The judgment of God was exacted upon Nebuchadnezzar, and he “…was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.” (Daniel 4:33 – NLT)

Finally, after seven years of living like a beast, Nebuchadnezzar received God’s message. The Lord returned Nebuchadnezzar’s senses to him. God’s amazing grace resulted in the king praising and worshipping the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Daniel 34-35 (NLT) recounts Nebuchadnezzar’s revelation. “…His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’”

God humbles the proud and exalts the humble. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), He says that God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. Humble yourself before the mighty hand of God.

Take it. It’s free.

For some odd reason, an overwhelming majority of people feel the need to please God. Now, don’t misquote me on this; it’s important to obey God, but pleasing Him through what you do is an impossible task.

That type of mindset is essentially a works-based salvation; doing what you can do to gain favor with the Creator. The problem with that line of thinking is that you never know how much is enough. How many good things do you need to do in order to punch your ticket to Heaven?

On the flip side, how many bad things must you avoid? Furthermore, if you do seven things right and four things wrong, how does that tip the scales? Instead of following a list of rules and regulations, it’s important to know, understand, and embrace the message of grace.

There’s a great song by Christian musician Matthew West called “Grace Wins”. In the refrain, West sings, “Theres a war between guilt and grace, and they’re fighting for a sacred space. But I’m living proof, grace wins every time.” Amen to that!

Paul tells us in Galatians 2:21 (NLT) exactly why we as believers should stop listening to the legalists of our day and embrace grace. The passage reads, “I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.”

We are made right with God through our belief in His son. Romans 10:9 (NLT) says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Salvation is a gift. It cost Jesus His life, but it doesn’t cost you a dime. It’s free. Take it today, please.

Let it grow!

The Book of James is easily the most hard-hitting section of Scripture in the New Testament. James, Jesus’ half-brother, doesn’t pull any punches and tells his readers that actions speak louder than words.

While anyone who’s read God’s Word knows that, according to Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT), we are saved by grace and not by works, James tells us that if you truly are a believer, your faith should produce good works.

Let’s take a look at the first section of James, as he speaks to faith and endurance. James 1:2-4 (NLT) says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

The keyword, seen three times in those three verses, is “when”. James tells us that troubles are inevitable, during those time of trouble your faith will be tested, and you’ll have a chance to grow. Trials and tribulations are not a matter of if, but when, and these obstacles that God places in front of us have a purpose.

What is the purpose? Only God knows. Perhaps rather than asking why our faith is being tested, it’s better to, as James says, “let it grow”. Allowing God to develop our endurance rather than resist his teaching is essential to growth. God doesn’t quit, so you’re better off submitting to His will, growing your endurance, and becoming the man or woman of God that He’s chosen you to be.