Peace

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.

No Room

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.

Going Viral

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!

 

Significance

Have you ever faced a task which seemed too big? A mountain of work to be done so daunting that you doubted you could ever complete the task? How do you face that?

I sometimes feel that way when thinking about the great commission. There are so many in need of the Lord. There are so many around us who have real needs to be met. How do we can we make a difference? I came across this quote by Ryan Romeo in my devotions one morning, “Not every church makes the same impact, but every church carries the same significance. From Outcry deco for church leaders,” Every church has a part to play in carrying out the mission.

We sometimes may ask, what difference can we make? The answer is we can do our part. Jesus gave us our marching orders in Matthew 28:19-20 when He said, “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” We aren’t responsible to win everyone in the world by ourselves. We are called to do our part. As we partner with brothers and sisters around the world, we add our impacts together and can reach more. We are judged by our faithfulness with what God has entrusted to us, not the impact we make globally.

That is why we partner with other churches in supporting ministries like Lifeword. Lifeword shares the gospel in many languages around the world. They have adapted as technologies have changed and now have the Lifeword cloud to present the gospel and discipleship tools in the heart language of people around the globe via the internet. We do our part in our community and have a larger impact as we pool our resources with sister churches.

Strategy

Have you ever seen Karate Kid. The Master agrees to teach the student karate. Danny shows up ready to go and instead is made to paint the fence, wax the car, sand the floor. In frustration he complains he is doing chores and. It learning to fight. Miraculously, it is revealed that each move he was doing was part of the karate and had built muscle memory. The point was a lesson we all need to learn in our walk with God, trust and obey.

Joshua and Israel learned that lesson at Jericho. God gave them strange marching orders. Instead of attacking or laying a long siege, Gus told them to march aprons the city silently every day for six days. One thing seventh, they went around seven times. Notice the outcome:

“On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city.” Joshua‬ ‭6:15-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

God granted Joshua and the Israelites success because they faithfully sought His instruction and then obeyed it. And God will do the same for you and me as we seek and obey Him. We must remember that obedience to God is always a prelude to success

When we stick to God’s plan success as He defines it is guaranteed.

Meditate

We all want to be successful in life. Success looks different in everyone’s opinion. Google defines success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose:” I think that sums it up quite well.

The key is to aim at the right target and have a good purpose. If your goal is to wake up, congratulations, you made it! But waking up isn’t accomplishing much. The Bible gives us advice on being successful. Notice what God says through Joshua 1:8. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” ESV

Joshua’s purpose was to lead the nation of Israel into the promised land. War awaited him across the Jordan river. God pointed him to the correct path by pointing him back to the Word of God. How can we have the right aim so that our “success” is meaningful? Following the same advice. The word of God must be in thoughts and on our tongues day and night. We should be careful to do all that is written in it.‬‬‬‬ That takes study and dedication. As we live by the principles in God’s word we will fulfill the most noble purpose of all, the glory of God.

Not ashamed

Not ashamed

Have you ever been ashamed? I sure have. One time was when I received my first, and only, speeding ticket. I was coming home late at. Isn’t from a JBC game and was in a hurry. I was following a friend with a radar detector which apparently didn’t warn us. Daddy had taught us to respect the law and keep our record clean. I knew he would be disappointed and I was ashamed of it all. I survived and learned some valuable lessons.

One definition of ashamed is to be reluctant or unwilling to do something out of embarrassment. I think that is what Paul if in Romans when he wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

http://bible.com/59/rom.1.16.esv

There is nothing about the gospel for which we should feel embarrassed. Jesus took the Shane when He does in payment for our sins in the cross. Why are we embarrassed to share that? Why are we concerned with how the lost will perceive us when we attempt to share the good news with them? In our selfish embarrassment, our silence is what should really make is ashamed. We are watching them die without hearing the good news and call to repentance because they might laugh at us.

Like Paul, let’s get over ourselves and boldly share the love of God with all around us. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and passed that mission on to us.