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Friday, December 18, 2015

A Christmas Devotional for Your Family

by Greene Pastures by Patti! 
Permission is given to print and enjoy for your Christmas Devotional. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.

Nativity Scene
Photo Credit: Greene Family

Prelude: Play a favorite Christmas Hymn.

Prayer:  Open with a prayer to thank God for the Christmas Season and the Celebration of Jesus’ birth. 

The Christmas Story:  Read Luke 2:1-20 from your Bible or from the following:

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
New International Version

“Away in a Manger”

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed.
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes.
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky.
And stay by my cradle ‘til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus. I ask thee to stay.
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care.
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there. Amen.

Responsive Reading:
All responsive reading verses are taken from the King James Version.

Leader:   For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The Almighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Family:   Jesus is Savior of the World.
Leader:   For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Family:   Jesus is Savior of the World.
Leader:   I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.
Family:   Jesus is Savior of the World.
Leader:   Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Family:   Jesus is Savior of the World.
Leader:   All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Family:   Jesus is Savior of the World.
Leader:   Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.
Family:   Jesus is Savior of the World.
Leader:   I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Family:   Jesus is Savior of the World.
Leader:   Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Family:   Jesus is Savior of the World.

Share the following Christmas thought with your family:

As we celebrate the Christmas season, let us not lose the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas does not rest in finely-trimmed trees, expensive gifts and in the hustle and bustle that fills the Christmas season.

“Christmas is something God did in the world He made. It is the announcement of a coming – the coming to earth of a Savior, Jesus Christ. Christmas is the glorious good news that mankind, all mankind of every race and nation, can experience forgiveness, freedom and life abundant because of God’s gift – the Babe of Bethlehem.”
-B.O. Baker

Have each member of the family discuss what Christmas means to them.

Family Prayer: Pray and thank God for the Coming of Christ. Join hands in a circle and give each member of the family an opportunity to pray.

Greene Pastures by Patti -Merry Christmas!

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Thursday, December 10, 2015


Hudson Taylor was scheduled to speak at a large Presbyterian church in Melbourne, Australia. The moderator of the service introduced the missionary in eloquent and glowing terms. He told the large congregation all that Taylor had accomplished in China, and then presented him as “our illustrious guest.” Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying. “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.”¹

What humility!

Humility is not a fashionable word to throw around. You don’t hear many people talking about it; it is very rarely spoken about from the pulpit; and if one says they are humble, it usually means they are not.

I knew when I wrote about PRIDE last week that I was obligated to tackle the tough topic of humility next. On a personal level, I desire to be humble, but I fear true humility is way beyond my reach. I feel more comfortable writing about topics I have some degree of knowledge about. Humility can’t be bought or achieved by intellectual means. It can only be obtained as we grow closer and closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. So, because the Bible addresses humility, I will attempt to give some perspective on it.

South Africa
Photo Credit: Greene Family

Michael M. Smith, the author of Becoming more like Jesus, defines humility as a trait that is “indispensable for growth in Christian character – for becoming like Jesus.”² As believers, we are called to be humble people. 2 Chronicles 7:14 states, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

To become humble we must be willing for the Lord to peel pride off our character and be totally God-centered like the Lord Jesus. However, we each have areas in our lives that usually hinder our quest for humility. And, we usually do not like sharing this personal information with others lest they glean something into our character that we don’t want them to see. As you read the next few paragraphs, think about some of the triggers that affect you from becoming more Christ-like, i.e. jealousy regarding a friend’s fabulous vacation; pride because your child received a higher SAT score than their peers; or coveting the larger, custom home of a co-worker.

Characteristics of Humility [a humble person]
  • Asks for forgiveness and says, “I’m sorry” quickly;
  • Rejoices and praises others, but not themselves;
  • Follows Christ's example the best they can;
  • Possesses Authenticity;
  • Listens to God
  • Possesses a grateful/thankful spirit;
  • Gives generously;
  • Shows modesty regarding their achievements;
  • Enjoys serving others;
  • Loves others;
  • Possesses the 'Fruits of the Spirit';
  • Enjoys seeing God in everything;
  • Projects sincerity;
  • Holds wisdom close by;
  • Retains control over their tongue;
  • Waits patiently upon God;
  • Admits faults easily;
  • Overlooks the failures of others;
  • Enjoys giving others credit that is due them;
  • Understands that they have so much to learn in the spiritual realm;
  • Accepts personal responsibility;
  • Desires daily encounters with God;
  • Longs for a touch from the Holy Spirit;
  • Agonizes over sin;
  • Compares themselves to the Lord rather than other people;
  • Recognizes their need for continual repentance; and
  • A humble person will NEVER boast about their humility.
Jesus – A Biblical Example of Humility

The Bible has many examples of humble people: Samuel, Esther, David, Daniel, and more. But, the most humble person in the Bible has to be the Lord Jesus Christ. He washed the feet of his disciples. [John 13:12-17] He gave his heavenly father all glory and honor [John 5:19,30,41] But, the biggest act of humility anyone could give, is that he submitted to God so fully that he took the form of a servant, humbled himself, and became obedient to the point of dying on the cross for our sins. His love for God and us was that strong.

It is one thing to talk about how to recognize a humble person, but we need to get to the point where we pursue or desire to pursue that kind of life ourselves with our entire heart and soul. But how?

Pursuing a Life of Humility involves:
  • A willingness and desire to rid ourselves of pride and be humble like Christ;
  • Praying for humility;
  • Faith in God’s ability to humble us;
  • Studying His Word continually;
  • Depending daily on the power of the Holy Spirit;
  • Following His leadings;
  • Living a disciplined life free from sin; and
  • Understand that God expects us to be humble.
Look to the Father
Photo Credit: Greene Family

Humility does not appear overnight. It is a trait that takes time to develop. We need time to grow into a person who is permeated with wisdom and grace. We will be tested to see if we will follow Him in many different circumstances. We need time to be taught what is right and wrong. We need time for the Word of God to blend into our life and character. But, as we experience more of God, we will find following him much easier as days pass by. With His grace, God’s strength will be perfected in us. As we find ourselves falling more in love with God, His Word, and our time communicating with Him, we will grow in humility. We might not even notice it, but others will. Look for opportunities to practice humility. Pray for those opportunities. Let’s stop tooting our own horn and let God have His way with us because he really is our "Illustrious Master."

Blessings Always,

Bible Verses:
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11

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. Romans 12:3

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12: 10-16

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Oh Jesus, I confess my proud spirit to you right now. Please give me the discipline to develop my character to become more like you. I desire your presence in all areas of my life. Make my prayer life and Bible reading be filled with your Holy Spirit’s leading, so I can be the person you designed me to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

¹Wiersbe, Warren. Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers. 7 Dec. 2015. p. 243.
²Smith, Michael. Becoming More like Jesus. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1999.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


A man received a promotion to the position of Vice President of the company he worked for. The promotion went to his head, and for weeks on end he bragged to anyone and everyone that he was now a VP. His bragging came to an abrupt halt when his wife, so embarrassed by his behavior, said, "Listen Bob, It's not that big a deal. These days everyone's a vice president. Why they even have a vice president of peas down at the supermarket!" Somewhat deflated, Bob rang the local supermarket to find out if this was true. "Can I speak to the Vice President of peas please?" he asked, to which the reply came: "of fresh or frozen?"¹

Frozen Peas
Photo Credit: Greene Family

The world defines pride as a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people and a feeling that you are more important or better than other people.² From a spiritual viewpoint, the late Adrian Rogers says, "Pride is a declaration of independence." It is like saying, "God, I am self-sufficient. I have everything I need. Your services are no longer required."

In Proverbs 6:16-19 being proud is listed as the first of the six/seven deadly sins the Lord hates. "These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies. And one who sows discord among brethren." Pride lives in the heart of man and it precedes destruction.

King Uzziah, an Old Testament King of Judah, became king when he was only sixteen years old. He started his 52-year reign seeking the Lord and was mentored by the Old Testament prophet Zechariah. However, as he became successful in both his political and military endeavors, he changed. He grew very proud and thought very highly of himself. Uzziah was a very good man and a great leader, but when he prospered, his pride began to develop to the point he became very angry when he was confronted by Azariah and eighty other courageous priests of the Lord about his burning incense to the Lord. Proud people do not like to be confronted and be told what they should or shouldn't be doing. While he was still angry at the priests, God allowed him to fall to leprosy. At the end of his life, he was known more for his arrogance and pride than the man he first was. His "destruction" manifested as we see in 2 Chronicles 26:22-23 when it says, "Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, from first to last, the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz wrote. So Uzziah rested with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of burial which belonged to the kings, for they said, 'He is a leper.'" Note, he was not remembered as the great King he was, but as the leper he became due to pride. This is an apt example of pride coming before the fall.

We all have some degree of pride in our lives. And, all pride isn't bad. If you are proud of your child's accomplishments; if you are proud of re-staining an old dresser, that is pride in the good sense. The apostle Paul was proud of the Corinthians when he said, "I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy." 2 Corinthians 7:4

But, let's look at some characteristics of a proud person. One may possess various degrees of these traits. 

In the world, a proud person may:

  • Look down on people and things;
  • Glory in themselves;
  • Focus on the failures and bad points of others;
  • Be overly confident in their knowledge;
  • Be self-righteous;
  • Feel a company or ministry should be privileged to employ them;
  • Be a demanding person;
  • Have to always prove that he or she is right and you are wrong;
  • Blame others, but rarely themselves;
  • Be concerned about their reputation and how others perceive them;
  • Argue and defend oneself when criticized;
  • Seek adoration and praise from others;
  • Have a difficult time saying they are sorry;
  • Have a difficult time asking for forgiveness;
  • Want to be served by others;
  • Compare themselves to others, especially in the area of class, money, possessions, and even spirituality; and/or
  • Boast in their achievements and accomplishments.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In the spiritual realm, a proud person may:

  • Not be able to confront their individual sins, because they would rather deal in vague generalities;
  • Try to hide their sins and faults;
  • Find it hard to share their spiritual needs;
  • Believe they have no need to repent;
  • Be self-righteous;
  • Believe in their intellect about spiritual aspects; and/or
  • Neglect God because they feel they are good enough or know enough already.
As believers, we should desire to break the power that pride may have in our lives - before destruction befalls us. We do this by asking God to change our heart. Our desire should be to turn from our pride toward humility - a topic we will discuss next week. While a  proud person finds it hard to even pray, let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and for those who are putting off accepting the Lord due to pride, so they will be filled with the hope, joy, and peace that can be received when we are close to Jesus. Pray the Holy Spirit will soften their hearts to hear the Word of God and desire His presence in their lives.

Blessings Always,

Bible Verses on Pride:
You have been deceived by your own pride because you live in a rock fortress and make your home high in the mountains. Who can ever reach us way up here?’ you ask boastfully. But even if you soar as high as the eagles and build your nest among the stars, I will bring you crashing down, says the Lord. Obadiah 1:3-4

And I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. Leviticus 26:19

He sees everything that is high; he is king over all the sons of pride. Job 41:34

Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt. Psalm 31:18

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. Proverbs 8:13

When pride comes, then comes disgrace but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 29:23

I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. Isaiah 13:11

I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. 2 Corinthians 7:4

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:16

Dear Heavenly Father, please let me keep a check on any pride that may seep into my life. Let me learn to recognize pride in myself and let me learn to lay my prideful moments at your feet. Help me to become a humble person. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit as I seek to understand pride and humility in both myself and others. Let me stay prayed up and in communication with you daily. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

¹Anonymous. Vice President of Peas. Stories for Preaching. Retrieved from

²Rogers, Adrian. “The Peril of Pride.” One Place. 15 Feb. 2011.

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