Tag Archives: Christmas

Making Room for Jesus-Question #13

Do we harbor a spirit of bitterness towards others? Is there hatred in our hearts?

Have you experienced the heart wrenching gut twisting feeling when you see a certain person or enter into a particular situation? Often bitterness comes from disappointment and rejection. Someone didn’t treat us right or a certain situation didn’t go as planned. If we don’t cleanse our hearts from this anger, envy or resentment, we can develop a spirit of bitterness and resentment. This is very unhealthy and certainly doesn’t allow for Jesus to make His way in and through our lives.

I think about Jesus who was despised and rejection. When the angel first appeared to Mary and told her she would conceive by the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Son of God, both she and Jesus were rejected. There wasn’t even enough room in the inn for Jesus to be born. The end of His life, He was rejected by some people closest to Him. He has walked in our shoes and felt our pain, yet did so without hatred.

No matter what has happened to us, there is freedom available to us to forgive others and walk in joy and peace. We don’t have to be bound to a bitter heavy heart. Don’t close Jesus out from birthing something new in your heart this Christmas season. Allow bitterness to go.

1. What dissappointments have happened to you that you’re still hurting over? Is there hatred in your heart for a person? A type of people? A sports team? Don’t laugh…people say they hate other teams often. God can bring freedom
2. Consider the humility of Jesus and facing rejection and ask Him to empower you to love with a pure heart in all circumstances.


Hebrews 12:15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

I John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

Making Room for Jesus- Question #12

Have we stolen? Do we take little things that do not belong to us?

I’d assume that most of you reading this aren’t into stealing identities and spending other people’s money, but I love that we can still take this question into deep consideration.

What are the little things? I know when I worked at Starbucks years ago, people would pour TONS of milk into an “iced espresso” to make it an iced latte. We knew what they were doing when they asked for this. I’ve seen people abuse coffee in public places like Panera and Whole Foods where the carafes just sit out. This to me boils down to a sense of entitlement. We think we are owed something that does not belong to us.

In our line of work, are we robbing those we are selling to and working with? We’ve seen sadly too many testimonies of Christians stealing money from others and allocating funds improperly. Have we sold cheap and faulty work? Have we taken paper products from our jobs or used work stamps for personal mail? Have we claimed someone else’s work as our own? Have we borrowed items belonging to someone else and not returned them? CONFESSION:SORRY Pradeepan, Phil and Matt F—if it’s an compensation, your books have changed my life! And R&M—your juicer and loaned books will make their way back to you soon;) Really though, these areas can become habits that continue to grow into more sins if we don’t catch ourselves doing them.

We aren’t children who exclaim “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” We are to grow in our walk with God and allow for more of Him in our lives. If we find something, we need to search for an owner. If something doesn’t belong to us, we don’t need to entertain possessing it.

1.Are there deeper areas in our heart that we are compromising in that make us steal? Do we covet? Do we want to get even? Are we walking in a sense of entitlement?
2.Find one scripture that talks about stealing being a sin besides those listed below. Pray and ask God to convict you of the sin of stealing.


Exodus 20:15“You shall not steal.”

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Making Room for Jesus-Question #11

Are we worldly? Do we pursue the pleasures, glitter, pomp, and show of this life?

I love glitter! I remember playing a role for a Christmas production in the 5th grade and I got to have glittered tights and make up! It forever made me want to wear glitter makeup which my mom very lovingly helped me see it wasn’t fitting for everyday life.

As I see glitter on Christmas decor this time of year I’m definitely reminded of my love for and restrain of glitter ;) This question is great to consider in the Christmas season. While the phrasing here could be updated some;), it really evaluates if what we are pursuing is more of God or more of things this world has for us. A great worship song I love says “this world has nothing for me. I will follow You.” What a great lyric to sing, but what an even greater cry of our hearts to walk out.

It’s easy to cry out for this to be true when the glitter and glam isn’t catching our eyes. When we’re broken and in need, it’s easier to go to Him. When we’re wounded or afraid it’s obvious His love is better than anything else. But what happens when we’re satisfied and we desire more? Are we setting what the media and culture says is important before us or are we seeking what God says is important?

In this holiday season, are we acquiring what we deem necessary to make our homes ideal with decor, or are we making room for Jesus to make His home in our hearts?

Glitter has it’s time and place and when God has us on display in seasons, it is so that our glitter would reflect Him to the world around us.

Remember you belong to Him and you’re not of this world nor will anything in this world go with you into eternity. (Preaching to the choir ;) )

1. What is your heart seeking after in this Christmas season? What do you truly want for Christmas? It’s not wrong to desire gifts and things we need, but is that taking preeminence over Jesus?

2. Is our outward “show” reflecting Jesus in a glorifying way?


I John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Making Room for Jesus-Question #10

QUESTION #10 Do we rob God? Have we stolen time that belongs to Him? Has our money been withheld?

Here I am squeezing in time to write this blog AFTER getting side tracked most of the morning…! This question to me always seems applicable in our day and age. The book I’m taking these questions from, The Revival We Need, was written in 1933 long before our internet age. It makes me wonder how people robbed God with their time back then! Surely they had more time than I do to pray right? ;)

“Rob”,”stolen”, and “withheld” are pretty strong words. These are forceful choices we make to hold back our time and finances from God. This is a place we must learn from the generosity of Christ and give back unto Him. He willingly gave of Himself to embrace the cross- a most painful and gruesome death. He gave the last drop of blood as well as His final breath so that we could have eternal life.

Sadly, we forget this. We get focused on ourselves. Our needs. Our wants. Our pursuits. This suffocates our generosity. It’s not that He needs our money or time, but rather, that we need to be reminded that it’s all His anyways. In giving of both our hearts and resources we are reminded that we are stewards of what He has entrusted to us. Take for example the 3 wise men. They came seeking the Son of God and were prepared to give gifts unto Him. Our response to His lavish giving, is that we should give back to Him! This keeps our hearts free from the temptation to see everything as belonging to us. When our perspective reaches the point where we are entitled, we become self-absorbed and in so doing we “steal” from God. We then rob Him of both recognition and gratitude.

Experientially, I (Stephen) have lived in Africa some 20 years among the poorest of the poor. Time and time again I have seen the Word of God prove true even among people living on less than a dollar a day. I have seen God open up doors of unexpected provision, provide raises, keep accidents and detonation of possessions from happening, wisdom in financial matters, etc.. all because of obeying the Word to give.


1.What is our plan for finances? This looks like giving of the tithe, or 10%, to our local church where we receive spiritual edification. It also looks like special offerings for missions, outreaches, the poor, etc.. If we don’t have a plan in place this won’t work. We will make giving an after-thought; instead, it needs to be the top priority at every pay check. This honors God.
2. What is our plan for stewarding our time? This can be as simple as establishing prime moments of our day where we can spend time with Him in the Word and worship. Many people say, “Well, I’m too busy.” Then my argument would be that you should increase your time with Him instead of decreasing. Matthew 6:33 establishes a clear principle here. It says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added back to you.” Beyond our daily devotion to Jesus, this area looks like service at our local church, reaching out to our neighbors, volunteering for outreach or service, and taking mission trips.


1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Making Room for Jesus- Question #9

QUESTION #9.Do we criticize unlovingly, harshly, severely? Are we always finding fault and looking for the flaws in others?

Let me say two words to you; Carrie Underwood. What comes to mind? Perhaps the Sound of Music Live from this past week? If so, let me comment here that immediately my social media feeds were filled with very critical remarks as people viewed her performance. Now I saw her acting in the movie Soul Surfer a few years ago, so I knew it wasn’t her top strength. Even if I hadn’t seen her act before, it would have been unfair to compare her to Julie Andrews. I tuned in via my laptop on a fuzzy streamed webcast as I enjoyed the show and was captivated until the end. It was theater and a LIVE performance for 2 &1/2 hours in front of 18+million people! Whew! My hats goes off to her and the whole cast!

I share this example because particularly in the United States, our culture is so quick to criticize and find the faults in someone. Who cares if Carrie’s acting wasn’t absolutely perfect, she’s a ridiculously gifted singer and might I add a multiple award winner. As a believer, I was grateful for such a wholesome family show being aired on NBC and prayers mentioning God, the Son, and Holy Ghost spoken over the airwaves. Carrie later responded to critics on her Twitter by saying, “Plain and simple: Mean people need Jesus. They will be in my prayers tonight. 1 Peter 2:1-25” I applaud her response. Do we respond like this in midst of our critics?

A critical spirit is ultimately based in fear or jealousy. This certainly needs to be eliminated to make room for Jesus in our hearts. When Jesus was faced with situations where he could have criticized another like in John chapter 8 with the woman caught in adultery, he extended grace and forgiveness. His words brought about positive change in people’s lives that empowered them to live in freedom not in bondage to their sin. Being a person who is harsh in our words doesn’t bring life to others or to ourselves.

To conclude today’s blog, I’m going to skip over to the application aspect to ask ourselves some questions;

1. Am I allowing my heart to be influenced by media? Do I gravitate towards critical news columns, blogs, and do I laugh at people’s harsh statements?
2. Am I trying to compensate for my own insecurities by exploiting someone else’s weakness?
3. Am I delighted in other’s successes or am I intimidated by them?
4. Am I secure in my strengths and maximizing those potentials as opposed to focusing on areas people are critical of? Am I content to be who God made me to be?


Proverbs 18:13 Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Hebrews 10:24 Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.

Making Room for Jesus-Question #8


Have we been gossiping about people? Do we slander the character of others? Are we talebearers and busybodies?

With social media at our finger tips these days, we can know a lot of details about a lot of people. On any given day I see posts from people in at about 4 different countries and probably 15 different states. This amount of social interaction is great for someone like me who loves people and cares about life details like my friends’ babies, weather pics, and life adventures. I would say however that while all of this social access has it’s benefits, there are disadvantages as well. One disadvantage is that because this interaction only gives us glimpses of someone’s life, we’re left to draw conclusions on our own.

You probably know the saying that it’s easy to judge a book by it’s cover. It’s true, because until I open the book and read it all the way through, the only judgement I have to go on is the cover. Often, all we see of people is “the cover” and we can only remark based on our perception of reality. Our life experiences and choices gives us a filter, whether good or bad for which we see things. The problem with this is that no matter how “good” our perspective might be, nobody truly knows what anyone else is going through. I know of people with autoimmune diseases who will have horrible pains and be down and out for days and then seemingly fine a few days later. This is very confusing to their friends and even family and leaves them wounded by other’s remarks at times. There are men and women who serve in occupations like the military or in the police force who see gruesome events and defend us in ways most of us could never comprehend. The reality is that everyone needs love, grace, and forgiveness. No one needs or deserves to be gossiped about and have their character trashed because of other’s assumptions.

While we may love “poking” around on Facebook and clicking the little heart icon on Instagram, we need to realize these are the momentary pieces that people are letting us see. Let us love them, believe the best, and edify them with our words by spending time in pray verses gossip.

1. A great way to vent about how you feel is to PRAY to God and Him alone. That being said, who can you pray for today?
2. Are there people in your life who continually gossip or get into everyone’s business all the time? If so, how can you make boundaries to distance yourself from these conversations or redirect conversation?


Proverbs 16:28 – A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends.

Proverbs 11:13 – He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.

Ephesians 4:29 – Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Making Room for Jesus- Question #7

Have we been dishonest? Is our business open and above reproach? Do we give a yard for a yard and a pound for a pound?
-Questions are excerpts from the book, “The Revival We Need” by Oswald J. Smith

As Stephen and I discussed this question today, he shared a story with me about grocery shopping in Kenya. A lot time ago when his parents used to buy food in Kenya, they’d place the produce on scales where the cashier would add weights to the other side. Often, they had drilled holes in the bottoms of the weights, making the customer pay 2-3 times more for their broccoli!

This question here is dealing with our dishonesty in our daily behavior. We all have different jobs that we do, but all of us are faced with decisions where we will either be honest or dishonest. For some, punching in on a time clock seems like a trivial thing. I’ve worked for companies like Starbucks where you weren’t allowed to punch in early or late without a manager’s override code. This prevented anyone from attempting to get more money than what they truly worked. I worked at another job where I almost felt like I had to babysit everyone because I wrote down their times in and out of the office. This was per request of my supervisors because some employees were notoriously late 5-15 minutes everyday. This amount of time multiplied over several weeks costs companies money that they aren’t getting work out of their employees for.

This is just one way that our actions can be carried out without integrity. What are some other ways dishonesty happens? Are we leaving a good example of fairness and integrity when we dine out at restaurants? Have we cheated on school papers or exams? Do we find delight in “cheating the system”? These are no small issues to God. While others may not catch us in our dishonesty, we can be assured that He is weighing our hearts. If we are aiming to walk with the kingdom of Heaven manifesting through us, we wont’ be so easily tempted to make shortcuts in our daily lives.


1. What is one specific area you can become more honest in? Write this down and share with a spouse, a close friend or spiritual mentor who can keep you accountable.

2.If there is something that you’ve cheated in, how can you make this situation right? This may require being truthful with an employer or close loved one. Like we discussed yesterday, the way of humility far outweighs the traps of pride.

Proverbs 20:17 Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.

Luke 16:10-12 One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Making Room for Jesus-Question #6

Is there any pride in our hearts? Are we puffed up? Do we think a great deal of our own position and attainments?

I once worked in an atmosphere with a mention of a name or title brought immediate attention and demanded it’s way. It made me feel really uncomfortable. I have no problem honoring people or recognizing their accomplishments. Matter of fact, I love encouraging others and celebrating them in their strengths. There is a difference though when we are basing our affirmation on our positions and success. Obviously there will be people who rise to the tops of companies and ministries. That is both biblical and unavoidable as we need leaders and people to operate in their gifts.

The moment where our identity is solely based on our success is when pride comes into play. Being a child of God and submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is what makes you a success. You are not successful because you are recgonized more than another or because you have attained a social status. There is humility that comes from being one who is dependent upon the Lord. This doesn’t mean take on the opposite problem of low self esteem, but it does mean we know where our strength comes from.

Each of you are equipped with natural gifts and personalities from the Creator Himself. In His creating you, He never designed you to write your name upon these attributes. The more acknowledged you are by man, the more dependent you will need to become on Him. We must realize that “apart from Him, we can do nothing” (John 15:5). People in this world may honor you because of your importance here, but humility will always grant you honor before the One who matters most!

1, Although it is all around us in this world, pride is not of God. Things birthed or carried out in pride will always end in destruction. Are there areas of your life where pride has crept in? Are there God dreams you thought were over because they ended poorly? A quick evaluation could reveal that maybe they aren’t over, but just need to be rebuilt in humility.

2.Giving of yourself is a way of bringing humility into your life and making room for Jesus. Think of two ways that you can give of yourself this week in a way that challenges you. This could be encouraging someone you’ve been jealous or judgmental of. It could also be apologizing to someone for stirring up strife. Take the road of humility, it’s long lasting!


2 Chronicles 26:16 His pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God.

Psalm 10:4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

Making Room for Jesus-Question#5


Are we offended easily? When people fail to notice us and pass by without speaking, does it hurt? If others are made much of and we are neglected, how do we feel about it?

The root words that make up the word offense mean to strike against, annoyance, misdeed, a hurt, or displeasure. It’s clear that when something is offensive to us, that pain is involved on our behalf. This doesn’t mean however that we have to permanently accept these emotions and retaliate with an offensive retraction. An offense can build “a fence” between you and another or between you and God.

Take these thoughts into consideration today. Could the person who offended you be an opportunity to extend Christ’s love? Could it be that the other person is hurting,thus their actions have nothing to do with you?

1. Realize that another’s actions are about them, they aren’t about you. Take inventory of a time when you’ve personalized another’s actions. Pray and release them.

2. Ask God to tear down the fences in your heart that are keeping Him and a his love out of filling and flowing through your life.


Ephesians 2:14, 15 (MSG)
The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over.

Psalm 119:165
Those who love your law have great peace. Nothing causes them to stumble [or be offended].

Proverbs 17:9
He who covers an offense promotes love; But he who repeats a matter separates best friends.

Making Room for Jesus–Question #4

Do we get impatient and irritated? Do little things vex and annoy? Or are we sweet, calm and unruffled under all circumstances?

Maybe today’s post isn’t as heavy as unforgiveness or jealousy to you, but we are more likely to have this type of obstacle in our everyday lives. Anger doesn’t necessarily come everyday, but being annoyed can be a repeat offender. This question isn’t meant to put pressure on us to be perfect or to display a false kind of “sweet”, but it is to challenge us to rid ourselves of these qualities. If we find ourselves becoming impatient and flustered, we aren’t operating in joy, love and peace, thus we aren’t yoked with the kingdom of God.

Stephen chimed in this morning with a visual illustration for this question. He described the irritations and annoyances as things bumping into us like something knocking into a cup full of water. Whatever is truly inside that cup is going to come out when it is bumped. When we catch ourselves being agitated and then see the ugliness of our reactions, it’s revealing what is really in us. This happens so that we can see the true state of our heart and we are given the opportunity to have God fill our hearts with a different response. So the next time you’re “bumped” with an annoying situation and your heart overflows with a nasty response, invite the Lord to fill you up with His love to overflow.


1.Notice what makes you impatient and make note of these things. Ask yourself what about the situation irritates you.

2.Then ask what you can do differently in the situations that bother you. Sometimes we need to draw clear boundaries in relationships or often we need to ask for forgiveness. (See post on December 1st for walking out prayers of forgiveness to God, self, and others)

3. Pray for perfect love to come into situations. As you make room for love, self-seeking, anxiousness, irritation, and lack of restraint will leave.


Hebrews 6:15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

Matthew 5:43-44, 46 You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

1 Corinthians 13:1 Love is patient, Love is kind…