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What’s at the Top of Your List?

It's interesting how people's priorities and to-do lists change toward the end of each year. People pack their schedules with parties, planning and shopping. Then after Christmas, we turn our focus toward goals and dreams for the New Year. But if we're not careful, the very things that matter most can wind up on the bottom of the list. That's why we have to be so diligent about spending time with the people who matter most to us, and especially, spending time with our heavenly Father. If we are going to be our best, if we are going to keep growing and moving forward, we have to keep God as the top priority on our list every single day. 

During the last few months before Joel's father went home to be with the Lord, he was on dialysis and would have to go to the clinic three times a week for four hours a day to have his blood cleansed. There were plenty of times that he didn't feel like going. He was tired. He was busy. There were other things to do. But it didn't matter how he felt, he went anyway. Why? Because his life depended on it! It simply wasn't an option to not go. Daddy Osteen always loved to travel all over the world, but when he started dialysis, he had to change his plans and rearrange his priorities. 

What if we could all be that diligent about seeking God and spending time with Him? When things get busy, when the children need something, when it's hectic at the office, when you have a thousand things to do, that's when you have to stand strong and say, "No, this is not an option. If I'm going to be strong, if I'm going to be productive today, if I'm going to have God's favor, then I've got to rearrange some priorities so I can spend time with Him." You may have to get up a little earlier before the children need you, before the email goes off, before the phone starts ringing. But remember, you draw strength, encouragement and wisdom when you're in God's presence. That's what keeps your life fresh! That's what keeps you moving forward. 

As we enter the New Year, I just want to encourage you to make sure that spending time with God is on the top of your list. There's no better way to spend your time than on the Timeless One! 

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33, NIV)


The Secret Petitions of Your Heart

In the scripture, there's a man by the name of Simeon. One day, an angel appeared to him and told him, "You will not die until you see the birth of Christ." 

Imagine how far out that promise seemed, especially back then. Simeon didn't tell anyone about it. He kept it to himself. Do you know that there are some promises you're not supposed to tell your friends and all your family members? They may not be happy for you. They may tell you how it's not going to happen or that you're too old or you really can't do that. That's why some promises are between you and God. The scripture calls it a "secret petition of your heart." 

Well, years went by, and Simeon didn't see any sign of the Messiah. Five years…ten years…I'm sure the thoughts came saying, "You heard God wrong. It's been too long. It's never going to happen." The enemy has no new tricks. He uses the same type of lies on us today - doubt and discouragement. 

I can see Simeon all through the day saying, "God, I know You're a God of completion. You said I wouldn't go to my grave without seeing this promise come to pass. So, Lord, I want to thank You that it's on the way." I can imagine he got up every morning believing, expecting and knowing that it would happen. And sure enough, 20 years later, he saw Christ born. The promise came to fulfillment.

Today, I believe God is saying what He said to Simeon. "I know what's in your heart…I'm not finished with you yet because there are too many promises that have not come to pass yet." You've got to know that what God started, He will finish. People can't stop it! Bad breaks can't stop it. Sickness can't stop it. Death can't even stop it! Get ready because our God is a God of completion. He will finish what He started and bring to pass the secret petitions of your heart!

"Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart." (Psalm 37:4, AMP)



The Greatest Gift You Can Give

One time, I was calling a friend of mine named Shannon. I dialed the number, and a young lady answered who sounded somewhat down or troubled. "Shannon, is this you?" I asked. The voice on the phone was muffled and said, "Yes, this is me, and I'm going to be okay." I was a little confused so I said her full name, "Is this Shannon so-and so?" The young lady said, "No, you must have the wrong number. This is a different Shannon."

I was just about to apologize and hang up when suddenly, I felt an overwhelming compassion for this young lady. I said, "Shannon, I know this may sound strange, but can I pray with you about something?" The young lady on the phone began to weep. She said, "Would you please? My father just died, and I'm so depressed. I don't know what I'm going to do."

I took a few minutes to pray and speak faith into her. I simply shared the love of God and knew it touched her by the sound of her voice. Before she hung up, the young lady said, "You're my angel. Now I know that God still has a plan for my life." 

This holiday season, remember, you are the hands and feet of Jesus. Take time for the people you encounter—even unexpectedly! God will bring people across your path that need to know His love and healing power. Be sensitive and follow His flow of compassion. When you feel that inner prompting to stop and talk to someone, do it! You never know how your kind words, your thoughtful prayers, your generous actions can change a person's life because showing His love is the greatest gift you can ever give! 

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV)

From my heart to yours, MERRY CHRISTMAS!


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