We just returned from SOAR 2018 (Sold Out and Radical) youth conference. One of the great things that happened this week, is the conference recognized modern heroes of the faith. Two such men, Bobby Tucker and James Schoenrock, both surrendered to God’s call to preach young, 13 and 11 years old.
This prompted me to think back on my life. I surrendered to special service at about 12 years old. From then until I was 17, I had plans which didn’t include much thought of God nor the commitment I had made. As that last year wound down, I started an elaborate negotiation with God. I bargained with every possible position in His service of which I could think. Finally, as my senior year in high school began, I yielded to His will wholeheartedly without any lines I would not cross. The rest is history!
This week made me wish I had not waited. My advice to all would be yield to His call now. Don’t wait for the right time and place. Don’t wait until it is more convenient. Like Samuel in 1 Sam 3, when God calls, respond, “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” And respond as Isaiah does in Isaiah 6, “here I am, send me”.
Don’t wait, yield to God today!
It happens frequently. Someone will ask,“Who is that?” I will look at the one in question as they approach and be clueless. All I see is s blurred figure. Finally, when they are practically on top of us, I can discern their facial features. You see, I’ve worn glasses most of my life. I can tell from moments like I have described that is time for an adjustment in my prescription.
Knowing someone’s identity is important! There was even a time when Jesus asked His disciples this question, but He was digging much deeper than just knowing His name.
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.””
Matthew 16:13-16 ESV
Peter saw Jesus’ full identity. He was the anointed Son of God. He was Messiah! That knowledge made all the difference.
Once you see Jesus for who He really is, can you ever see life or yourself the same way again
If you met me in field frantically looking at mesquite trees and growing more frustrated by the minute, I can image you would ask what was happening. What would you think if I replied I was looking for bananas? You might call for help thinking I had lost it! Why? Because everyone knows you don’t find bananas growing anywhere except on a banana tree!
In Matthew 7, Jesus used that same illustration this way:
“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing by inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” Matthew 7:15-16 ESV
Our Master explains that “fruit” reveals character. Our fruit is best understood in this context as our lifestyle. Wolves will be known by their lifestyle. They will live in a way that pulls people away from God. On the other hand, our lives should be lived to draw people to God. If we are His disciples, it should show. Talk is easy. Everyone can claim to be a follower of Jesus. However, we are warned that wolves will come in acting like sheep, but with bad intentions. But fruit will be displayed. And fruit indicates character!
May we always have discernment in dealing with others and may our fruit always point people to God.
Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there? It was a night like any other night. The monotony continued as you tended your sheep just like all the other nights. The sheep were doing their thing and you and your fellow shepherds tried to stay awake and vigilant for any dangers.
Suddenly the quietness of the night was shattered. There was a bright light and then you see him. The angel started to speak of a special baby and that you could find him in a barn using a feed trough as a bed! Although He was in such humble surroundings, He was King of Kings! As if that wasn’t enough, suddenly the skies are filled with a host of angels praising God. Their cries echoed across the countryside.
“”Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace
among those with whom he is pleased!””
Luke 2:14 ESV
God had fulfilled His promise in the most unlikely ways. The Savior had arrived, but not riding in on a war horse as a mighty conqueror. He arrived on the scene as a helpless baby born in a barn. The shepherds rushed to town and found Jesus just as the angels had said. That encounter left them changed men.
Jesus is still in the life changing business. He gives peace between us and God. He brings us into His family and gives us the capacity to love as He loved. He revealed His purpose in Luke as He read from the old testament and declared that very day the crowd was seeing prophesy fulfilled..
“”The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”” Luke 4:18-19 ESV
As we remember and celebrate the advent of Jesus, let us never forget He still brings peace.
Merry Christmas! May the peace that passes all understanding fill your heart now and everyday.
Sounds of the season surround us! While the world keeps turning and finding new reasons to pick apart classic songs and shows, they are still missing the main point. One of the great carols of the season to me speaks of what Christ did when He came to earth. Consider the first verse and chorus of Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne:
Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity:
Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for Thee;
Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus, come,
There is room in my heart for Thee.
When Jesus took on flesh, He sat aside His crown and stepped down from the throne of heaven to humble Himself. He went so low, that He became an unborn baby within Mary. He experienced birth, growth, and all that life brings so that He truly knows what it is to be human. He left all that even though there was no room for his family in Bethlehem. Notice Luke 2:7, “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” ESV. Jesus was placed in a manger as His first bed.
The chorus reminds us of why He stooped so low. He did all of that so that He could bring us into a relationship with God through redemption. He was born so that He could die as the perfect sacrifice. He did just that. Now He lives to save all who call upon Him.
Celebrate Christmas. Celebrate Jesus.
I love Christmastime! I love the sights, smells and especially the sounds. I love Christmas music from the sacred to the sappy. Yes, I am one of those who barely wait for leaves to start changing colors before I start playing Christmas music.
I used to lead worship and often wondered why we only sing carols at Christmas. In fact, I broke that unspoken rule a few times. As disciples of Jesus, we should celebrate His birth all year. The miracle of the incarnation is where it all began. God took on flesh to seek and save the lost. He lived to introduce us to the Father and died to reconcile us to Himself. That is worth remembering and celebrating all year. One of my carols is O Come Let Us Adore Him. The chorus says,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
This time of year, we are called to adore Him at every turn. But let us never forget that He is worthy of our adoration all year!
It’s the most overbooked time of the year!
Thanksgiving, black Friday, cyber Monday, giving Tuesday, parties at work, parties at home, Christmas activities at church, school, etc. Is it any wonder that we are often exhausted this time of year? I’m tired just thinking about it.
We must remember that there is something far more profound to this season. We celebrate Advent as we approach Christmas. During Advent, we remember Jesus taking on flesh in the barn in Bethlehem. We also look forward to His return at the second Advent. Never let that thought slip from your mind.
We are surrounded with decorations and reminders of our Savior during December. Even non-religious stations play Christmas Carols this time year. What a great opportunity we have to proclaim Messiah’s birth! Every day is a good day to witness, but this time of year, people may be more receptive.
As gifts are given, remind them of the best gift of all, Jesus. As songs are sung, remember the angels singing to shepherds outside of Bethlehem.
Have you seen any of the viral challenges going around online? There were all sorts of stunts being pulled for 15 minutes of fame. Some claimed they did it to raise awareness of issues, but often the issues were lost in the ice water buckets being poured over people. I have a new challenge to propose.
Christianity Today recently reported research by Lifeway: “We’ve released new research as part of the Transformational Discipleship study that shows only 19% of churchgoers personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible every day.“
That research was based on the transformation church assessment tool and Bible study. Lack of daily Bible reading, not to mention studying, is a growing problem. God’s word is sufficient for all we are to believe and do. Yet how can we know what God expects if we don’t study His word? He speaks to us of this in 2 Tim 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [a]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” NKJV
God’s word is profitable for us! It is good for doctrine. Doctrine is what we believe and teach. It is good for reproof and correction. God’s word sets a standard and points out when we are not living up to God’s standard of righteousness. The word is good for instruction. It teaches us more about God and His expectations. Finally, it completes and us equips for every good work. We believe in the sufficiency of the Scripture. God’s word alone provides all we need to know and do to please and glorify God.
So why don’t we make reading it a priority? We must get back to the word of God. The wisdom of God’s word is timeless and applies to every day of our lives.
Join me in a challenge that will make a real difference. Let’s read the Bible every day!