Friday, December 31, 2010

God's Plans vs. Man's Ambitions

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way."
Matthew 2:10-12

From the time of Jesus' birth there have been those who hate Him and those who love Him.  Herod feared the loss of his kingdom to the hands of the Messiah, and so he plotted to have Him killed. The maji adored Jesus, and journeyed a long distance to worship Him. Herod thought he could use the maji to locate Jesus and carry out his wicked deed, but God protected His Son and rerouted the maji back home, away from the paranoid king. Jesus had a mission to accomplish that would lead to His death, but this was not that time. The Savior must endure the agony of the cross, experience death, and then the glorious resurrection. God's plans cannot be foiled by man's ambitions. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Learn to Share

"And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem."
Luke 2:36-38

Anna, descended from one of the twelve tribes, is a woman devoted to God. It seems from the text that the temple is her home. She is more comfortable there, fasting and praying, than anywhere else. When she sees Jesus she immediately gives thanks to the Father. Her passion is to speak of the things of God, and now that she has seen the Redeemer she tells others about Him. God may not call us to spend all of our time in church, like Anna, but He does want us to share the gospel of salvation with those around us. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Promise Fulfilled

"Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
         According to Your word; 
    For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 
    Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 
         And the glory of Your people Israel."
Luke 2:29-32

Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord. Simeon, whom the Bible describes as a "righteous and devout" man, takes the babe in his arms and blesses God. Sometime in his life God had promised Simeon that he would see the Messiah before he died.   Scripture says Simeon came to the temple "in the Spirit". Only the Holy Spirit could reveal the presence of the newborn Messiah to him. We don't know how long Simeon had to wait for the fulfillment of God's promise, but we do know that God came through. He always does. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

God With Us

"And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb."
Luke 2:21

Mary and Joseph's baby is to be named "Jesus". Jesus is a transliteration of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means Jehovah is Salvation. An appropriate name for the Son of God; the One who came to save. Jesus is called by many other names as well. God, Messiah, Lord, Master, Savior, King of Kings, Lion of Judah, Lamb of God, just to list a few. It's been said there are over 700 titles and names for our Lord in the Bible. One of them, Immanuel, tells us that He is with us -- always present. And if we have received Him as Lord, then His Holy Spirit lives in us and we are never alone. What comfort this truth brings as we journey this earth.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Response Required

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Luke 2:15-20

An encounter with Jesus always elicits a response. The shepherds, upon seeing the Christ child in the manger, shared the news of the Savior's birth with others. Then they went back to the fields where they had come from, in an attitude of praise to God; giving Him the glory for what had been revealed to them. Later, during the three years of Jesus' ministry, there would be those who would become His disciples; following Him even to death. Conversely, there would be those who despised Him and would turn away from His message of salvation, even to the point of betrayal. It is no different today. Some people will accept Him, others will reject Him. But either way, a decision is always required.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Great Reconciler

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest; And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
Luke 2:9-14

The birth of Jesus Christ is "good news of great joy. . .for all the people".  The Messiah is born to deliver His people from the oppression of sin.  But He is not just the Savior of Israel. He is the Savior of all mankind. There is no one who is outside of His grace. There has never been One like Jesus, nor will there ever be again. He is unique. The only Son of God, born to the glory of the Father, yet existing eternally. The Alpha and the Omega. He left His heavenly home and took on flesh to carry out the plan of redemption, reconciling men to God through His shed blood. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Humble King

"While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
Luke 2:6-7

The Prince of Peace could have been born in a palace.  Instead, He was born in a common stable. The King of Kings could have been placed in a fine cradle, but He was laid in a feed container for cattle. The Lord of Lords could have been dressed in fine attire, yet strips of cloths were all Mary had to wrap Him in. He came to our world the first time in the humblest of circumstances, but when He appears the second time He will come with great power. Revelation 19:11-12 proclaims  "And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself." 

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Power of One

"Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child."
Luke 2:1-5

Caesar Augustus has commanded that a census be taken of the Roman Empire for the purpose of taxation. The man who has declared himself the emperor no doubt feels quite powerful to have his decree obeyed by the "inhabited earth" without hesitation. But the real power lies in the hands of God Almighty. Joseph and Mary must be in Bethlehem when Jesus is born. This is necessary  to fulfill the prophesy (Micah 5:2) that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem. God uses Caesar Augustus to accomplish His purpose. Since Joseph is of the line of David, he is obligated to go to Bethlehem -- an 80 mile journey -- to register. He takes Mary, soon to give birth, with him. The Savior of the world is about to be born in the little town of Bethlehem. God's promise of a Savior will be fulfilled. Prophesy will be fulfilled. All through the Power of One.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Gift of Praise

"It is good to give thanks to the LORD
         And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; 
    To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
         And Your faithfulness by night, 
    With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp,
         With resounding music upon the lyre."
Psalm 92:1-3

Day and night the Lord watches over His children. There is no time when He is not with us. As Christians, His very Spirit lives within us, strengthening us and bringing joy to our hearts. We have the gift of praise to lift up to Him in response to His love and faithfulness. God does not judge our musical abilities. He's not impressed with our talents, nor critical of the lack of them. He wants our honest praise, no matter how we present it. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Eternal One

"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
         Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
         From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel 
         His goings forth are from long ago,
         From the days of eternity." 

Micah 5:2

Micah the Prophet, in about 700 BC, prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. The birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem fulfilled this prophecy, but Jesus did not begin there. He has always existed as the Second Person of the Trinity. "His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity." Jesus Christ, The Eternal One. Fully God and fully man. Rejoice in this glorious mystery!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Christmas Story

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
Philippians 2:5-8

The Christmas story is the story of the cross. Jesus was born to give His life on Calvary as a sacrifice for our sins. He willingly died in our place. And because of His sacrifice we may have forgiveness of our sins, a personal relationship with God, and eternal life. But only if we acknowledge our need for a Savior, humbling ourselves and acknowledging our sin. To believe that Christ lived is not enough. The Bible says even the demons believe that. We must receive Him as our Savior and Lord. God's Son -- the perfect sacrifice for our sins.    

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Prophet of the Most High

"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
         For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; 
    To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
         By the forgiveness of their sins, 
    Because of the tender mercy of our God,"
Luke 1:76-78a

Elizabeth, Mary's cousin, has given birth to a son. The angel Gabriel has told her and Zacharias, her husband, that the baby is to be named John. Now, before many witnesses, Zacharias prophesies of the role John will play in preparing the way for Christ. The Lord has not spoken through prophets for 400 years, until now. Imagine the excitement of Zacharias, Elizabeth and all the people around them as Zacharias begins to prophesy. The Messiah will be born soon, and John will grow up to be the prophet who will go before Him. John will live in the wilderness until his appointed time of ministry has come. John, son of Zacharias, "the prophet of the Most High".

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Everyone Needs a Savior

And Mary said:
         "My soul exalts the Lord, 
    And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior."
Luke 1:46-47

Mary is told by the angel Gabriel that she will give birth to the Son of God. She is in awe of this news, as she is yet a virgin. Gabriel tells her that the Holy Spirit will "overshadow" her, like the cloud of Shekinah glory. The glory of the Lord. Mary praises God in what is often called the Magnificant. She is a true worshiper of God and exalts Him above anything or anyone else. Mary is an ordinary girl chosen by God the Father to give birth to His Son. An honorable state to be sure. Yet Mary acknowledges God as her Savior. Even though she is to become the mother of the Messiah, she is still in need of salvation, just like everyone else.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

God's Perfect Gift

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
John 3:16

Seven days from now the world will celebrate Christmas. For many people it will be a purely secular holiday. A time when they perform the annual tradition of giving and receiving gifts. They will shop for the perfect gift to give their loved one, while all the time missing the most perfect gift given to them by the One Who loves them most. Jesus Christ is the perfect gift given to the world by a loving Heavenly Father. Free to whomever will receive Him, yet costing the Father everything. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

An Obedient Servant

But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
Matthew 1:20-21

The Bible tells us that Joseph was a descendant of David and a carpenter. Described as a "righteous" man, he kept the laws of God. He must have been compassionate and kind, as well. Betrothed to Mary, who is carrying a child that is not his, he does not wish to disgrace her by making her condition known publicly. Then he is told by an angel in a dream that Mary's Child is the Son of God and that Joseph is to call Him Jesus. Little is spoken of Joseph after that, but his obedience to God and faithfulness in carrying out his fatherly responsibilities to the Messiah are a wonderful example to all of us. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Light

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house."
Matthew 5:14-15

Christ came to dispel the spiritual darkness of the world. Through His death, burial and resurrection He won the victory over Satan and his demons, who live to keep the world from God. During the Christmas season many people are open to the babe of Bethlehem. But there is so much more for them to grasp. Jesus came as a baby and grew up to carry out the desires of His Father. To bring all people into a saving knowledge of God.Those who have received Christ have the light of the gospel to share. If you know it, show it. Be a Christmas light.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bridge of Reconciliation

"Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation."
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

As Christians, we have a ministry given to us by God. It is the ministry of reconciliation. God has bridged the gap between Himself and humankind with the gift of His son Jesus. Through His sacrifice on the cross we have forgiveness of sins and have been reconciled to the Father. Now we have the privilege of sharing this wonderful gospel news with those who do not yet know the love of God. Christ has bridged the gap. Spread the news!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Friend In Need

"Make every effort to come before winter."
2 Timothy 4:21a

Paul is writing to Timothy from a Roman prison. His letter is full of exhortation regarding how Timothy should carry out his ministerial responsibilities. Then, in the final paragraphs, Paul's words become more personal. He asks Timothy to come to him soon, and to bring his cloak and books, especially his parchments. Paul names those who have deserted him. All have gone, except Luke. He requests that Timothy bring Mark.  Just before he ends the letter, Paul extends one more plea to Timothy, "Make every effort to come before winter." Perhaps Paul wanted his coat in the cold prison cell before winter set in. Or maybe he was concerned for Timothy's traveling safety and wanted him to arrive before the harsh weather. Whatever the reason, he loved Timothy and wanted him near. God places friends in our lives to help us in our time of need. We just have to be humble enough to ask them for assistance.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Grace In Suffering

"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."
2 Corinthians 12:9

God does not always answer our prayers the way we would like. Like Paul, we may ask the Lord to remove the pain we are enduring, and He may decline. It is His sovereign right to do so. For the Lord knows best what we need. Perhaps our greatest need is spiritual growth. And to that end we may need to be in a place where we can only survive by leaning on His grace. It is always sufficient. The fact that we rise the next morning to face another day shows this is so. We don't know what Paul asked the Lord to remove, but we do know that the Apostle boasted in his weaknesses to the glory of Christ. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Practice Trust

"To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 
    O my God, in You I trust,"
Psalm 25:1-2a

Six years ago I went through what I call a "dry spell".  I was serving God, but my soul was weary and parched, like a traveler who had crossed a desert. One night while crying out to God, He reminded me to trust Him. I pondered that word "trust" and penned an acrostic that helped me in a very practical way. When we are faced with a desert experience what should we do?  TRUST –
Turn to God
Rest in Him
Understand His Character
Stand on His promises
Take Him at His word

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Powerful Words

"Your word I have treasured in my heart,
         That I may not sin against You."
Psalm 119:11

Those who love God want to live in obedience to Him.  God's word gives instructions on how to live in faithfulness to Him and has the power to transform us. When we value Bible verses and take them to heart, we are changed from the inside out.  As Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He used scripture to defeat him. "It is written. . .", He said. If they were important for Jesus, God in the flesh, to use against the enemy, think how much more important they are for us.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Souls In Despair

"O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;
         Let them bring me to Your holy hill
         And to Your dwelling places. 
    Then I will go to the altar of God,
         To God my exceeding joy;
         And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
         And why are you disturbed within me?
         Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
         The help of my countenance and my God." 
Psalm 43:3-5

Life is filled with struggles. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. When we are In the midst of a trial, we long for the reassurance that God is near; that He hears us and has not turned away. After my first husband died, I wrestled with feelings of abandonment. It seemed my prayers bounced off the ceiling and fell to the floor, unable to reach the God that I love so dearly. My soul was in despair. Pain, whether emotional or physical, can create a barrier between us and God. It is during such times that we must rely on the truth of God's word and not our feelings. Feelings come and go, but God's truth is eternal. Like a beacon it leads us through the darkness into His glorious light, where we can again praise Him. He is our exceeding joy and the One who returns peace to our hearts and minds.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In His Grip

"and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand."
John 10:28

Through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross we have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him. He promises this to those who believe on Him and trust Him for their salvation. His grip is firm and can never be broken. No matter how bleak the day may be, we can take joy in knowing that we are safely and securely in His hand.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Standing Firm

"The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
 The plans of His heart from generation to generation." 
Psalm 33:11

God's purpose cannot be foiled. Not by man, nor Satan, nor principalities of any kind. His word stands forever, as does His plan. We should take great comfort in this truth. The Lord is not surprised by anything that occurs. The events that take place around the world do not alarm Him. He will complete what He has begun. Just as the mountains stand firm, so does our God. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

At Any Moment

"Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."
1 Thessalonians 4:17

A day is coming when the Lord Jesus will gather His beloved Church unto Himself in the air. The Apostle Paul describes this event in the fourth chapter of 1 Thessalonians. It's an amazing account of what is to come. The dead in Christ shall rise first, then those believers who are alive will follow. No one knows when this wondrous catching away of believers will take place, and that makes it even more exciting. It could happen this very moment. When it does, we will be with the Lord always. Forever and ever. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Morning Glory

"The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
         And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands."
Psalm 19:1

When I photograph a sunrise like this one, my heart leaps for joy. Nature holds its breath, anticipating the glorious scene that is about to unfold.  The dark pines stand at attention and point to the Artist. Then the Great Master dips His brush into His unique palette and strokes it across the pale firmament. It bursts forth with glorious color. All description, even my camera lens, falls short of the splendor of the King's artistry. Creation is worshiping the Lord and I am invited to join in. The heavens explode with the glory of God. As far as the eye can see they declare the work of His hands. Oh, Lord! You are majestic. Your magnificence is displayed for Your glory.  I delight in You.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Extravagant Worship

"You visit the earth and cause it to overflow;
         You greatly enrich it;
         The stream of God is full of water;"
Psalm 65:9a

Consider the awesome goodness of God. The Almighty King of the Universe desires to commune with us. He condescends to meet with us. His mercy is abundant. Through Jesus, the Father made a way for us to come to Him. He blesses us beyond our wildest imagination with His presence. His grace, kindness and blessings overflow. They are endless. How can we keep silent with such knowledge?  It is too great to keep to ourselves. Our worship should be extravagant. As extravagant as the love of God.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Cost of Discipleship

And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me."
Luke 9:23

Jesus made it plain that following Him would be costly. The early Christians suffered great persecution for their faith, some of them dying in the Coliseum because they would not renounce Christ for Caesar. Today in many parts of the world Christians are imprisoned, tortured and killed for following the Lord Jesus. Discipleship doesn't come cheap. It cost our precious Savior everything for us to be called His disciples. The costliest cross of all was the one He carried to Calvary. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Closer Look

"But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;"
1 Thessalonians 5:21

Things aren't always what they seem to be. The eagle in the photograph may appear to be real, but it isn't. It's a sculpture. The more familiar you are with a live eagle, the more easily you will discern that the one in the picture is an imitation. In the same way, the more we study the Bible and come to know the true Christ and His gospel, the better equipped we are to identify an imposter. We should never take at face value the teachings of any man or woman, but test them by the scriptures. Always take a closer look.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."
Genesis 50:20

It's amazing that Joseph could say "God meant it for good" after all he'd been through. Kidnapped, sold into slavery, falsely accused, imprisoned. He understood God's sovereignty and the faith it required to submit to it. What happened to Joseph paved the way for the salvation of his people. As we face trials in our lives that leave us asking "why", we can look to Joseph for encouragement. We may not see the answer in our lifetime, but we can rest assured that the same God who redeemed the bad in Joseph's life, will do the same in ours.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cleanse and Restore

"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
         And renew a steadfast spirit within me."
Psalm 51:10

God is gracious to forgive us and set us aright when we confess our sins to Him. Pride may keep us from acknowledging our sin for a season, but if we truly belong to the Lord we won't be able to continue in sin. The Holy Spirit will convict us and bring us to repentance. In our own strength we cannot make our hearts clean and restore ourselves to a right relationship with God. This is work that only He can do. When we try to accomplish this on our own, we set ourselves up for failure. Complete reliance upon God is crucial.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Good News for Broken Hearts

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18

Who can doubt these words when they look at the life of Jesus on earth? He came to reveal the Father to the world, and give His life for it.  Jesus was a friend to repentant sinners. He drew near to the hurting and humble people around Him. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ continues to draw "near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Good news, indeed.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't Talk Trash

"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, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." 
Ephesians 4:29-30

Words have meaning, and what we say impacts the hearer. Our speech can lead unbelievers to Christ or chase them away; they can build up a fellow Christian, or tear him down. The words we speak can please the Holy Spirit of God, or grieve Him. Before we open our mouths, we should ask ourselves, "Is what I'm about to say truthful? Is it worthwhile? Is it uplifting?"  If the answer to those three questions is "no", it's probably better to remain silent. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Made For Each Other

"For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine."
Romans 1:11-12

We were created for relationship. Certainly relationship with God, but also relationship with other Christians. This is never more evident than when we are going through tough times. God often uses other people as instruments of His care. When we are struggling, Christian brothers and sisters can pray for us, share uplifting scripture, testify of trials God has gotten them through, and help us in practical ways.The trouble is, we often don't open ourselves up to others and let them know what's going on. Our pride won't let us. And so we deny ourselves the fellowship and encouragement we could receive. We also deny to others the joy of ministering to us. No one is happy in such an arrangement, except Satan. Let's not allow him the satisfaction of keeping us apart. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Where Does My Help Come From?

"I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
         From where shall my help come?
    My help comes from the LORD,
         Who made heaven and earth."
Psalm 121:1-2

After my first husband died, I printed off the words of Psalm 121 and pinned them to the tack board next to my desk. They were a source of comfort and strength to me as I journeyed through grief. A constant reminder that God was there to help me; the same God that made heaven and earth. Think of the wonder and significance of that statement. If God can make the sky and land out of nothing, is He not able to make a way for us out of the darkness of our trials into the joy of His  glorious light?

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Jesus I Know

"When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled,
and said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to Him, 'Lord, come and see.' 
Jesus wept."
John 11:33-35

Jesus' friend Lazarus has died. Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, have summoned Jesus to come. They know He can raise Lazarus from the dead, and of course He does. A miracle that brings glory to God. It's a moving story, beginning with the first moment when Mary approaches Him. She is wailing, as are the Jews around her. Scripture tells us that Jesus was "deeply moved in spirit and troubled". In the original language the implication is that Jesus was angry in spirit and very agitated. But angry and agitated by what? Some suggest that the wailing of the people showed their lack of faith and that this upset Jesus. But two verses later He is weeping. Not wailing as the others, but weeping softly as in shedding tears. This doesn't sound like the Lord was angry at the people. Another suggestion is that Jesus was angry at death and the grief that death causes. And that He wept, not because Lazarus was dead -- for He knew that Lazarus would soon be resurrected at His hand -- but out of His compassion for the mourners.  The second interpretation seems more plausible to me. The Jesus I know detests the idea of death and decay. That's why He came to earth to save us, His life not sparing. And the Jesus I know is filled with compassion for the hurting and seeks to comfort those who mourn. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

True Thanksgiving

"Let the peoples praise You, O God;
         Let all the peoples praise You. 
    The earth has yielded its produce;
         God, our God, blesses us. 
    God blesses us,
         That all the ends of the earth may fear Him."
Psalm 67:5-7

Today in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a day when we "count our blessings". A day when we are thankful. But thankful to whom? It is God who blesses the earth. It is God who is to receive the praise and reverence. Whether we have much, or little, we are indeed blessed. The holy God of the Universe loves us. So much so that He gave His own son Jesus Christ for our salvation (John 3:16). Those who have received Him have much for which to be thankful. If you have not yet received Christ as your Savior and put your trust in Him, today would be a good day to do so. It brings a whole new meaning to "Thanksgiving".

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No Sting in Death

"The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 15:56-58

A friend reminded me today that we are blessed "because we are saved". So true. There will come a time when each of us will breathe our last breath. For those who have received Christ as their Savior, there will be no sting in death, but only a victorious celebration in the presence of our Lord. For this reason, we will stand firm in our faith and never stop serving the Lord Jesus. A time is coming, dear ones, when we will receive the reward of faithful service. Our toil is not in vain. Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What is God's will for You?

"Rejoice always;
 pray without ceasing;
 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Much has been written and spoken about knowing God's will. There may be circumstances in our lives when we seek to know His will regarding a job, or home, or some other decision we're about to make. However, there are scriptures such as this one that make it clear what God's will is for us all the time. We are to rejoice in knowing Him in all situations. Stay in constant communication with Him throughout the day (we don't have to be on our knees with heads bowed to talk to God; I'm speaking to Him right now as I write this). And no matter what is going on in our lives, we are to have thankful hearts. Even in the trials of life we can find reasons to thank God; our salvation being one. All this we are empowered to do through our relationship with Christ.

Monday, November 22, 2010

God is For Us

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" 
Romans 8:31-32

Living next to Rocky Mountain National Park, I have the pleasure of viewing and photographing extraordinary wildlife. This opportunity is afforded to me and all who come here because the animals are protected by the National Parks Service. At all times the NPS has the best interests of the creatures in mind. This reminds me of the believer's position in Christ. God the Father loves us so much that He gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Having received this wonderful gift from God, we are now under His protection. He has our best interests in mind at all times. Even the trials that God may allow us to go through are for our good. They are not meant to harm us, but to conform us to the image of His Son. This is the very best we can be.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Silent and Still

"My soul, wait in silence for God only,
         For my hope is from Him."
Psalm 62:5

The implication of this verse is to be silent and still before the Lord. It is good to take a day, such as the Sabbath, and just rest. No agenda. Put everything aside and just relax in God's presence. Have you allowed yourself to do that this week?  How about doing so right now? 

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