Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"This I Know"

"Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." Hebrews 4:13

Today I was thinking about what I don't know in regard to the upcoming year. For instant, I don't know what tomorrow may hold. I don't know whether the Lord will return this year or not. I don't know just how bad things might get before He does return. I don't know what we may face in the days, weeks, months ahead. I don't know if this year will be better or worse that the last. I don't know if I will even make it through this next year- perhaps He'll call me home. I just don't know.

But there is something I do know. I know I don't have to worry about what tomorrow may hold because I know who holds tomorrow and who holds me in the palm of His hand. I know that the Lord is faithful. I know that His mercies are new every morning. I know that He crowns the year with His goodness. I know He will meet and supply all my need. I know that He will never leave me nor forsake me. I know that He will be with me always even unto the end of the world. I know that as I acknowledge Him in all my ways He will direct my path. I know that a thousand shall fall at my side and ten thousand at my right hand but it will not come near me. I know that there is no good thing that He will withhold from me as I walk uprightly before Him. I know He heals all my diseases and forgives all my iniquities. I know that nothing can separate me from His love.

There are many things in this life that are uncertain, but there is one thing that we can be certain of-- God will never change. There are many things we don't know about the future, but this we know-- the Lord has already seen the end as well as the beginning. There are things that we won't know until we get there, but we know this-- God already knows. We don't know what will happen from one day to the next, but this one thing we know-- God is in control. We need to stop being concerned about what we "don't know" and encourage ourselves in what we do know. And what we know is that we can trust the Lord with our lives.

Have a great day. There is a lot about tomorrow that we don't know... but always remember that as long as God knows we don't have to be concerned about what we don't know.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"As They Went"

"And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. " Luke 17:14

"As they went". Three little words, but very significant. These lepers had heard the word of Jesus. Faith was produced in them and they responded to His words by faith-- they went. Faith doesn't always sit back and do nothing, faith often takes a step. In the Book of James it says, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." (James 2:17)

So many times we will hear the word of the Lord and do nothing. We wait for Him to "supernaturally" manifest it (or bring it to pass) before we move. There is a time to be still and wait, but there is a time to put action behind the faith. For these lepers, the healing would come as they went. When He said to "go show yourselves to the priests", they had to obey His word and go- that's when the healing came- as they went. Faith responds in obedience to the word of the Lord. Obedience is the "work" of faith that James was talking about. As they not only heard His word, but obeyed His word, they were healed.

Has He already spoken to you and told you to "go" but you are still sitting there waiting for some "sign", for it to happen first then you will go? It doesn't work that way. His word to you is your sign, it's all the sign you need. If you remain there waiting for something to happen instead of doing what He told you to do to cause it to happen, it's not going to happen. Again, their healing and deliverance came as they obeyed and did what He told them to do. Seek the Lord, know that you have heard a word from Him- not another person, not your own desires, but from Him- then go and do what He said to do.

Have a great day. It happened "as they went", not "as they stayed".

Monday, December 29, 2008

"Troubled By Troubles"

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." John 14:1

Only the Lord knows the degree to which this life can be "troublesome". Troubles are on every side. They come from without and within. They happen in our families, on our jobs, with our health, in every area. The target of trouble is your heart. If it can get to your heart, it can cause you to be anxious, distressed, agitated, disturbed and disquieted. But there is a solution when trouble comes so that you won't fall prey to it but be victorious over it instead.

The verse above in grammar is an imperative sentence. In an imperative sentence the understood subject is "you". So the verse could read, "You don't let your heart be troubled." There is something that you must do. You have the responsibility to not let your heart become troubled. You have the responsibility to guard it with all diligence. You have the responsibility to take the steps to see that it is restored to peace should you allow it to become troubled.

What is that part? What is the solution? How do we obtain victory? "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:16,17) When trouble comes, don't let the fear and worry that it brings stay. Give it to God in prayer. Cast it upon the Lord. "Ye believe in God", remember who your belief and trust is in. He is greater than the trouble. He is greater than the fear it brings- He hasn't given you a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

When I think about not letting my heart be troubled, I think about the potential there is for it to "run wild" just like imaginations that aren't captured and cast down. I can picture a team of horses that are held by a rein. If you don't keep a good grip on that rein, the horses can run wild and drag you behind them. What trouble wants to do to your "heart" is cause you to "lose hold of the reins" so it can take you on a "wild ride" and "drag you down". But again, that doesn't have to happen. You don't have to let your heart be troubled by the troubles that come your way. Your faith is in God who is the giver of peace.

Have a great day. Don't let troubles cause you to be troubled.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"Who's This Baby?"

"And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger." Luke 2:16

When the shepherds got to the manger, they saw more than just a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. They knew this was not an ordinary baby, they knew they were looking at the Savior of the world. As you look at the babe in the manger this Christmas you aren't just looking at a baby who was born of a virgin. Let me tell you what/who you are looking at.

When we look into the manger and see this babe, we are looking at Jesus and everything He is. We are looking at the Incarnate Son of God. We are looking at the great I Am. We are looking at the Savior of the world. We are looking at He who was, is and is to come. We are looking at the door- the means of access to the Father. We are looking at the Lamb of God who takes away sins. We are looking at the Lion of Judah. We are looking at the Way- the way that leads to eternal life- the Truth, the Life. We are looking at the Light. We are looking at the Good Shepherd. We are looking at the Alpha and Omega, the Author and Finisher, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the ever Eternal One. We are looking at the healer, deliverer, provider. We are looking at the soon coming King and the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

Just because we see Him as a babe doesn't make Him any less of who He is- that babe was Jesus. He may have been wrapped in flesh, He may have been wrapped in infancy, He may have been wrapped in humanity, He may have been wrapped in weakness, but we still behold His glory... as that of the only begotten Son of God. (John 1:1-4,14)

Have a great day. Don't just see a helpless babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, see Jesus... and all He is.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Hear The Babe"

"To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:19

Do you need a word from the Lord this morning? Do you need to hear from Him? Do you need for Him to speak to you? Did you know that it is His desire to speak to you? It has always been God's desire to speak to and with His people. It's always been His desire to have fellowship and communion with us. This was evident in the Garden of Eden. God came down in the cool of each day to commune with Adam. That was the reason we were created-- "and for Thy pleasure we were created". (Rev. 4:11)

Man's sin is what broke that fellowship with God. Man's sin put God on one side and mankind on the other. Man's sin caused a problem in our communication with God. Even though man's sin caused the division in our fellowship with God, it did not change God's love for man nor His desire to have fellowship, communion and a relationship with us. This was God's desire from the beginning and because He does not change, it has still always been His desire.

Because of God's desire to have a relationship with us- one where we walk and talk together- He had a plan to make that possible once again. That plan began to manifest when in the fullness of time God sent His Son to be born of a woman- a virgin woman named Mary. The birth of Jesus was God speaking to mankind. It was God saying, "I love you. I desire a relationship with you. If you will put your faith and trust in my Son, then you will have access into my presence once more." God loved us so much, He wanted a relationship with us, He was so willing to forgive us and bring us back to Himself that He sent us a gift- the gift of reconciliation- and it came wrapped in swaddling clothes laying in a manger.

A relationship with God grants us the opportunity and ability to "hear from the Lord", to have Him "speak to us", to communicate and fellowship with Him. The relationship between mankind and God that was broken was "mended" back together through Jesus Christ. So when you look at the Christ child laying in a manger, don't just see Him, hear Him- hear what He is saying. He is speaking volumes. He is speaking loudly. He is speaking the depth and breadth and length and height of God's love for you.

Have a great day. Don't just see the babe in the manger, "hear" Him, listen to what God is saying to you through Him.

Monday, December 22, 2008

"It's The Beginning"

"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21

When we celebrate Christmas- the birth of Jesus, we can't stop at the manger, we have to go on to the cross and the empty tomb. Even though we celebrate the birth, death and resurrection as three separate events on the calendar that take place at different times throughout the year, they are a culmination of one purpose. They are three distinct events that work in conjunction with each other to make up the one plan and purpose of God-- to redeem mankind and reconcile his relationship with the Father.

The angel's announcement to Mary let her know that there was a wonderful, eternal purpose of God that was coming through the birth of her son. He announced to her that this was only the beginning of Jesus' mission and reason for coming to earth. "For He shall save His people from their sins." So what we celebrate at Christmas, the birth, was the beginning- the beginning of the fulfillment of God's plan to redeem mankind; not the end- therefore, you can't stop at the manger. At the cross Jesus said, "It is finished". Jesus is the Author and the Finisher. He is the First and the Last. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Beginning and the End. So what happened in a manger two thousand years ago was only the beginning- the starting point, the fulfillment beginning to manifest. It was finished at the cross.

Christ is not divided. We can't divide His life and segment it when we remember the events that surround it. He was the babe born a manger as the Lamb of God to take away sins and the crucified Christ who is the risen Savior. We celebrate it all- not as individual events but as part of the one divine plan of God.

Have a great day. What was begun in the manger was finished at the cross.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Go Tell It- Part 2"

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" Isaiah 52:7

Yesterday we talked about the agenda of the ungodly to totally erase Christ from Christmas. One way they are trying to do that is by substituting the word "Christmas" for "holiday". They no longer say, "Merry Christmas" but "Happy Holidays". It's now become just a "holiday". Several years ago someone came up with a saying, "Jesus is the reason for the season". Well, this year I have come up with my own saying, "Jesus is the reason for the holiday". Either way you can't get around Jesus. Call it a holiday if you like, but He is still the reason for the holiday. As a matter of fact, Jesus is the reason for "every day".

Jesus is the reason the world exist and the sun rose this morning- it was created by Him. Jesus is the reason we are living and breathing- He graciously gives us life and supplies what we need to live. Jesus is the reason we can have eternal life- He died on the cross to pay the price for our sins. Jesus is the reason we can have a relationship with God the Father- He reconciled us back to God. He is the reason we can have hope and peace even in devastating situations. Jesus is the reason why I get out of bed each day. He is the one who sustains and keeps me going. He is the one who meets and supplies my every need. So the bottom line is "Jesus is the reason"-- everyday, not just at Christmas, not just on certain holidays, not just on Sunday.

Because of this we not only need to "go tell it on the mountain" and spread the gospel at Christmas time but everyday. We need to acknowledge Him Sunday through Saturday; 24/7; day in and day out. We can't just proclaim this good news once or twice a year. Our stand to keep Christ at the forefront is something we should be doing everyday and not just when they threaten to remove Him from a holiday that bears His name and was intended to celebrate Him.

Have a great day. We must remind the world everyday that Jesus Christ is the "reason".

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Go Tell It"

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

"Go tell it on the mountain, Over the hills and everywhere, Go tell it on the mountain, Our Jesus Christ is born."
I don't have to tell you that we are in a battle. It really becomes evident at this time of year. It's a spiritual battle that is being fought in the natural realm by those who are against Christ. Those who are anti-Christ, those who adhere to political correctness, those who are atheistic in their beliefs are trying to take Christ out of Christmas. They are trying to remove His name from every social arena. They want to wipe out any sign of Him off the face of the earth. They attack anything and anyone that puts Him in the spot light.

As we were singing the Christmas carol above the other day, I began to think about this issue of removing Christ from Christmas. These that are propagating this are "telling it on a mountain". They are very outspoken with their agenda. They aren't being quiet. They aren't sitting idly by. They are shouting their message from the roof tops-- through the news media, through television, on the radio, on the street corners, in public as well as in private. They are "telling it" and telling it loudly without reservation.

This carol also reminded me that we have a message and we need to be telling it. We need to shout it from the mountains, the hills and everywhere. We need to remind them that "Jesus Christ is born". We can't let them forget the meaning of Christmas. We can't let them forget that a Savior came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost. We can't let them forget that there is hope, and it entered the world in the form of a babe in a manger.

I am not "telling" this message for my sake. They may take Christ out of our celebrations, out of public eye, out of society, but they cannot take Him out of my heart. In my heart there will always be a place for Him, there will always be room, there will always be worship and praise. But we must proclaim the message for their sakes. They need to know because the message that is able to make us wise unto salvation and is the power of God unto salvation, started becoming reality when a virgin gave birth on that first Christmas day to the glorious Son of God- the Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world.

Have a great day. Those who oppose Christ are telling their message... we need to be telling ours louder, clearer and with perseverance lest they forget.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"One Of Them"

"And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God." Acts 3:8

Have you ever seen those people who are just overjoyed in their salvation? Some call them "fanatics". Others refer to them as "one of them". All they want to talk about is Jesus. They get a little "too" excited about the Lord. They lift their hands, they shout, they jump around, they dance, they act a little "wild" at times. Well, there are times when I am one of those kinds of Christians. I can't help myself... I just want to run, jump, shout and praise the Lord demonstratively, and can hardly contain it. Shall I tell you why? What prompts such behavior in me and in others when we tend to get "emotional" about the Lord.

The man at the Gate Beautiful is an example of "one of them". When the Lord healed him, he went into the temple "walking and leaping and praising God". His action wasn't just prompted by the fact that he was now able to use his legs that were once paralyzed. I believe it was because the man "came back to life"- he got his life back. He sat at the temple gate begging all day, everyday. He had to have someone carry him to the gate, he had to depend on others to support him, he had to have someone come and get him at the end of the day. This man had no life- he was as good as dead. But on that particular day when he was healed, he came alive. No wonder he was walking, leaping, running, shouting, praising God.

I shared that story to give you my answer. You see, I was once dead- dead in trespasses and sin- I had no life- but Jesus passed by my way and raised me up out of my "beggarly" state. He, who is life, breathed His breath of life into me. I passed from death into life. The wages of my sin produced death but He gave me His gift of eternal life. I came alive! When I think about that-- it makes me want to shout! I get so excited and overwhelmed at the fact that He gave me my life back. I have a reason to shout, so that's why I shout! That's why I dance! That's why I jump around! That's why I can't contain myself when I think about it! I was once dead but now I am alive! Hallelujah! Thank You, Jesus!

Have a great day. I am glad to be "one of them"... and thankfully so!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"He Is Called"

"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, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

One day Jesus asked His disciples what men were saying about Him. He wanted to know what they were "calling" Him. Was Jesus concerned about His reputation? Was He curious to know what people thought about Him? Was He interested in finding out whether the people liked Him or not? Was He like us, wanting everyone to think well and highly of us? Jesus already knew what they were saying about Him, He knew what they were calling Him. He was often called many things while He was on earth. Some called Him teacher, some called Him a glutton and drunkard, some even called Him the prince of devils. The disciples said that the people were calling Him John the Baptist, Elijah or a great prophet.

The point of Jesus' inquiry was not self motivated. He wasn't worried about what people thought about Him. He wasn't taking a popularity poll. Jesus had something else in mind. He wanted to bring the disciples individually to a place where they would search their own hearts and beliefs about who He was. His next question was,"Who do you say I am?"

Before His birth the prophet said that He would be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. In the garden Mary called Him Master. Peter called Him the Son of God. John the Baptist called Him the Lamb of God that takes away sins. At the cross the soldier called Him the Son of God. The thief on the cross called Him Lord.

Jesus still asks the same question today. His motive is still the same. And He is still asking it individually. Who do you say I am? What do you call Me? This morning, who do you call Him? Do you call Him a prophet who lived in times past? Or just another teacher? Do you call Him Savior, Lord, Master? Do you call Him wonderful, glorious, precious? It's a question that is posed to us individually, therefore, it is one we must each answer and can only answer for ourselves. So what is your answer?

Have a great day. Who do you call Him?

Monday, December 15, 2008

"He Is Great"

"For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength." Job 37:6

Thursday morning when we woke up it was snowing. As I watched the inches accumulate and the flakes get bigger and bigger and fall heavier and heavier, I could not help but think of the greatness of God. I stood looking out the back door in total awe of how God not only created the snow, but knew exactly how many flakes had fallen, how many flakes were in each inch, how many were still to fall. The number of flakes that fell just in my back yard alone were more than we have a number to express. Not only that but I have been told that no two snow flakes are just alike. I am overwhelmed by this more than amazing God.

I just want to spend this morning exalting God. I know we talked about this recently, but with each passing day He reveals a little more about Himself. And with each revelation it leaves us standing in awe of just how great, infinite and powerful He is. Take time today to meditate of the greatness of God. Look at His marvelous, complex creation and give Him praise for being Who He is... a great, great God.

Have a great day. God is so much bigger and greater than we can imagine.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Drink Water"

"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." John 4:14

Do you ever get thirsty? Sure, we all get thirsty at times for something cool and refreshing especially during the summer time. But I am talking about another thirst. We have a natural thirst that takes place in our bodies and we have an inward thirst that takes place deeper within us.

When I am physically thirsty, nothing seems to quench that thirst like plain old water- soda doesn't, juice doesn't, nothing, just water. The inward thirst is the same- there is only one thing that satisfies it. We try to satisfy it through relationships, through activity, through education, through social status, through entertainment, through possessions, but they still leave us thirsty. The woman at the well tried to satisfy her inner thirst through relationships- "For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband." (John 4:18)-- but always came up thirsting again.

The One who created us, who designed us, who knows what we are made of, who uniquely formed us knows what it takes to satisfy the inward thirst and He told us what that was-- "whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." If you have tried to satisfy your thirst but are still thirsty, it may be because you are trying to satisfy it with the wrong thing. As I said earlier, the only thing that truly satisfies my physical thirst is water. The only thing that can satisfy this deep inward thirst is water-- the Living Water that Jesus gives-- this water is Himself.

Have a great day. Thirsty? Drink some water--- living water.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"No Pain, No Gain"

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." 2 Corinthians 4:17

Wouldn't it be wonderful if everything in life came to us easily. Wouldn't it be great if it came on "soft beds", "flowery pillows" and on pleasant sun filled days. But that's not reality. More things come, and are gained, through suffering, pain and hardship than they do through ease. Our precious children are born through travail. Muscles are built through strenuous exercise. Endurance is gained through pressing past the aches and pains. Even playing a guitar is accompanied by calluses.

Without the oven the bowl of dough would never become bread to satisfy the hungry. Without being crushed the fragrance that is within the flower would never be enjoyed. Without the firing process the lump of clay would never be changed into a vessel that is substantial and fit for use. Without pressure a piece of coal won't become a diamond. Without night day doesn't look at bright. Without battles victory doesn't smell as sweet. Without weeping laughter doesn't sound as good. Without thirst and heat cool water doesn't feel as refreshing.

Even the wonderful salvation we enjoy didn't come easy. It cost something- it cost God everything and it came through the suffering of Jesus. So don't despise trouble, affliction, suffering. Those things that are of more value, that are much more precious, that are eternal, don't come cheaply or easily, they come with a price, but in the long run the price is worth it. Remember the old saying: no pain, no gain? How true. But in God's "scheme of things" not only is there gain through those things we suffer, but it's great gain.

Have a great day. Without the rain we wouldn't enjoy the sunshine. Easy does not produce that which is priceless and eternal.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Real Strength"

"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10

Yesterday when I sat down to rock my grandbaby, I decided to turn on the television for a moment. Joni Erikson Tada and a friend, Renee, were on. As I watched these two ladies, I realized that I was watching two extremely "strong" women. No, they weren't physically strong. They were confined to wheel chairs. They couldn't walk, they couldn't run a race, they couldn't dress themselves, they couldn't even brush their own hair or change their shoes. But as I listened to their testimonies, as I heard their words, as I saw the peace that rested upon them, as I looked at the grace that surrounded them, I knew I was not looking at two ordinary women- not because they were paralyzed and couldn't use their hands or feet- but because they were women of incredible faith and confidence in the Lord.

Strength is not measured by how much weight you can bench press. It's not measured by how fast or far you can run. Real strength is not measured by what you can do physically... it's measured by what you do/are "inwardly". Is strength the lack of tears in a sorrowful situation? No, strength is the confidence that God will wipe the tears away and turn your sorrow into joy. Does strength mean you are always "on top"-- always on the mountain, never in the valley or pit? No, it means that wherever you are, you know you are not alone because the Lord will never leave you nor forsake you. Does strength mean that you always understand what's happening to you so you can endure it? No, to that also. Real strength means that you don't try to lean to your own understanding, but trust that some how, some way God will work all things together for the good.

The strength I am talking about doesn't give up even when all odds are against you. It goes the second mile- even when the first one was painful. It keeps looking up even when everything else says to look down. It holds fast it's confidence in God even when you feel like He has "slain" you. Those who posses real strength know that it doesn't come from exterior circumstances or outside help, it comes from abiding in the presence of the Lord and letting Him "infuse" you with His strength-- for His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Have a great day. Truly strong people are not those who have bulging biceps, but those who keep their trust and faith in the Lord even in difficult situations.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Don't Blame God"

"Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." John 11:21

Blaming God is nothing new... it started back in the Garden of Eden. "And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." (Genesis 3:12) When things go wrong, or don't go according to our plans, or something bad happens, God seems to get the blame for it. Adam blamed God, Martha blamed God, Mary blamed God, many people all around the world blame God. They blame Him because He allowed something to happen, didn't allow something to happen, didn't stop something from happening, didn't work the problem out, didn't make a way, etc... the list is endless.

Blaming God is a two-fold mistake: 1) It's incorrect. When you blame God, you are misplacing the blame. God is never to blame for anything. 2) When you blame God, you are pointing a finger at your only true source of help. Job never would have made it through his time of suffering had he blamed God and turned his back on Him because God was the only One who could have gotten him through it. God was the only one who could bring him comfort, strength and healing. Mary and Martha blamed God/Jesus- the only One who could help them. He was the only one who could give life and hope into their situation.

Bad things happen and things don't always happen to our liking. There is usually a place to place blame when they do, but it's not on God. He is your source. He is your strength. He is your deliverer. He is your comfort. He is the fountain from which you can drink, find rest and receive comfort when bad things happen.

Have a great day. Don't blame God when things are bad, don't turn your back on Him, don't cut Him off... because you are cutting off your own source of help.

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Christmas Picture"

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh." Matthew 2:11

I quit going to the annual Christmas parade a couple of years ago because it's just too cold to be standing out there. Well, last night I braved the cold because my daughter wanted to take my granddaughter to her first parade, and of course, Nana couldn't miss it. This morning I was reflecting on the night, and Christmas in general, and began to think about the real meaning of Christmas---- CHRIST BIRTHDAY! The more I thought about it, the more I found myself making some comparisons between celebrating Christ and celebrating His birth. Let me explain.

We will stand in freezing weather to watch a Christmas parade, but we won't get out of our warm beds to go to our prayer closet in our warm houses to spend a few minutes with the Lord. We will fight the traffic jam afterwards just to get back home, but we won't get in our cars on Sunday morning and go to church. We take our child to the mall and stand in a line of screaming children for hours just to get a picture with Santa Claus, but we can't sit in church for more than thirty minutes without squirming and watching the clock. We will spend the money that we don't have, borrow the money or max out credit cards to buy Christmas presents that we don't need, but we won't give tithes and offerings. We will get up in the middle of the night to be the first in line at the store to buy that hard to find item, but we won't get up even a few minutes earlier than we have to in order to have time alone with the Lord. We go to great lengths to cover our houses with lights, but we hide the light of Christ within us.

All that I have talked about are the things that we associate with Christmas, but something is wrong with the picture. There is something wrong when we give more attention, time and money to the "trappings" of Christmas than we do to the One that Christmas is all about. There is something wrong when we celebrate His birth but we don't celebrate Him. I think we need to step back and individually make some comparisons of our own lives during this time to see where we are putting the emphasis... on Christ or on Christmas?

Have a great day. Are you celebrating Christ? Or events?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"He's A Big God"

"Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?" Isaiah 40:12

On Wednesday nights at church we have been watching a video teaching by John Bevere. Last night he was talking about the awesomeness of God- exactly how big and how great God is. He used the scripture above and began to compare the size of God with the universe in terms we could understand (although it's still hard to wrap our little finite minds around some of those figures). He talked about the size of the universe and how long it takes to get to our closet star. If we traveled in a jet from the earth to the sun it would take 21 years to get there. Our next closet star is over four million light years away. He went on to say that our galaxy is only one of millions that are out there, yet as big as the universe is, God can measure it with the span of His hand. There are billions of stars in the universe, but the Lord not only created them, but calls each one by name (and never forgets a name).

Personally, I can't fathom how big the universe is, but God measures it with His hand. I can't even fully comprehend the size of all the oceans in the world, but God counts every drop of water in them and holds them all combined in the palm of His hand. He knows how much the earth weighs. He sets the mountains and hills on a scale and weighs them like you would weigh a pound of meat. He knows how many grains of sand on the seashore. He knows how many blades of grass in my front yard. He knows how many apples on each tree, and He knows how many apples are in an apple seed waiting to be planted. He tells the ocean how far it call go on the shore. He knows the number of fish in the sea, birds in the air, cattle on the ground. There is no way to fully comprehend how big God truly is.

But at the same time, this big, awesome and amazing God knows me. He knows how many tears I cry when I am hurting. He knows the number of hairs on my head. He knows how many times my heart beats a minute. He knows my DNA without looking at it under a microscope. He knows how many blood cells are in my body. He knows my every thought even before I think them.

Don't limit the Lord, He is bigger and greater than we have the ability to understand- He can do anything! But don't limit Him either by thinking that He is so big that He doesn't care about you or have time for you. You are more important to Him than the stars of the sky, the sands of the sea or the vastness of the universe. These are all evidence of the greatness of God. But He humbled Himself and took on the likeness of sinful flesh then died on the cross to take away your sins-- that was His evidence of how great His love is for you.

Have a great day. He is bigger and greater than we will ever be able to understand but He loves us so much.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Where Are You Looking?

"Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me." Micah 7:7

Do you know why we get discouraged? Do you know why we get fearful? Do you know why we start murmuring and complaining? Do you know why we get discontent? It's because of where we are looking! When the Israelites looked at the giants that were in the land, they got fearful. When Peter looked at the winds and waves, he began to sink. When Lot's wife looked at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, she became a pillar of stone. When the Israelite army looked at the size of Goliath, their hearts sank in fear.
When we look at what we don't have instead of what we do have, we become ungrateful and begin to complain. The Israelites looked at the meat they didn't have and complained against God instead of looking at the manna that He was sending them each day. When we look at our problem instead of looking to the "hills from whence cometh our help", we become fearful and faithless. When we look at the situation instead of looking to God, doubt and discouragement will come in. When we look at the mountain, we lose faith and give up.

When you read some of the writings of David in the Psalms, you'll read words of complaint and petition. He'll say such things as- my enemies pursue me, they are stronger than I am, they are out to get me, my soul is cast down, I am in distress, my strength is gone, etc. But don't stop there he always goes on to say- but the Lord is my helper, I will put my trust and faith in the Lord, the Lord will show me the way to take, He shall destroy my enemies, He is on my side. This is what I like must about David- one minute he may be acknowledging his problem, but the next minute he is acknowledging the power and provision of His God. You can tell when he turns from the problem to faith in God- there seems to be a 'dividing line'. Do you know what the difference was? He stopped looking in one direction and started looking in another. He stopped looking at his problem and started looking at God (his problem solver, the One who was greater than his problem, the One who was able to handle his problem).

Where are you looking this morning- at the storm, at the giants, at the mountain, at the impossibility of the situation? Are you looking at the great I Am, the Healer, the Deliverer, the Redeemer, the Supplier? Where you look will determine if you are defeated or have victory. Where you look will either make you grateful or ungrateful, fearful or full of faith, discouraged or encouraged, depressed or at peace. It all boils down to what you are looking at- God or the problem.

Have a great day. What are you looking at?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"Did You Ask?"

"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Jeremiah 33:3

Someone who I am close to has been calling me for weeks to help give them some advice for a situation they are in. They have a decision to make and the time is getting short- they have to make it within just a matter of days. I asked her yesterday what was she hearing from the Lord in prayer about this matter. She told me that she really hasn't prayed about it. This amazes me! She is a very godly woman and even teaches the Bible-- the same Bible that tells her not to lean to her own understanding but to acknowledge the Lord in all her ways; the same Bible that says that it's not in a man to direct his own steps; the same Bible that says that there is a way that seems right unto a man but the end is destruction; the same Bible that says, "Without Me, you can do nothing."

There is a two-fold message in this word this morning: 1) Be a doer of the word and not a hearer only. It does you no good to just know what it says, be able to quote it or teach it's principals to others. The benefit is in the application- in doing what it says, acting upon it, following it's instructions. The second is- you should never try to make decisions without the council of God. My friend keeps asking me what she should do-- I don't have any more of a clue than she does unless I seek the Lord for an answer. We (none of us) just don't know what's the best thing to do, we just don't have the answers, we just cannot make wise decisions on our own, we are so finite- confined to the knowledge of the moment- unable to see down the road, see the outcome or see the avenues that are hidden from our view. So it's no wonder she doesn't know what to do--- "you have not, because you ask not".

Let me combine the two messages into one word briefly: Look to God's word and apply it to every situation and decision you are faced with- no matter how big or small it may be- because you don't have what it takes to make the right choices on your own.... but He does, and He will show you as you "seek Him first."

Have a great day. Are you trying to make decisions on your own? You can't do it!

Monday, December 1, 2008

"How To Handle Problems"

"This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

A while back I read a little sign that was hanging on an office wall- I have also received it as an email (you probably have too). I want to share it with you this morning. It said, "Good morning, this is God. I will be handling all your problems today. I will not need your help... so have a good day." I thought it was a good reminder. When problems arise... not if... when... because they do arise, and more frequently than we wish, we tend to try to handle them ourselves. Even if we go to God with them, it's not long before we find our hands on them trying to solve the problem, trying to manipulate the situation, trying to make something happen. The end result of our "help" usually only makes matters worse. Abraham and Sarah tried to help God and got an Ishmael.

Are you trying to "help" God? Are you trying to tell Him how to solve the problem? Are you trying to take matters into your own hands? Are you trying to make something happen? Are you pushing God aside and trying to figure it out on your own? Or are you letting Him handle the problem- the whole problem- His way, according to His wisdom and plan, in His own time? Are you going to let go and take your hands off and trust Him to handle it? I would have a terrible problem if I had to figure out how to create a day. But He solved the "problem" of how to create it... because it was no problem for Him at all. "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." (Luke 18:27) Let the fact that today is here be a reminder to you that He is well able to handle anything on His own and does not need your help. If He does need it... like my parents used to tell me... "if I need your help, I'll ask for it".

Have a great day. He doesn't need your help, if He does He'll ask for it, so take your hands off or you are going to wind up giving Him more than one problem to solve.