Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Precious Gift from God

As I sit and type this blog today, I am looking at the most beautiful individual on the face of this earth. She is lying in a hospital bed, just finishing her fourth night of stay as the doctors try to determine what is causing her to pass out and her heart rate drop so low. You see, today is our 26th wedding anniversary and we WILL celebrate our special day today, just not the way we had planned!

I went to bed last night thanking God for my godly, beautiful, precious wife. And I woke up with even more thanksgiving on my heart. I have taken her for granted way too often, but this past week has made me slow down and give thanks His wonderful gift to me of Dorinda Ann. You see, God's Word says James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. Of course, the greatest gift that God has given me is His Son Jesus Christ, and I am so grateful for Him above everything else. But after that, it just doesn't get any better in my life than my wife.

When we walked the aisle of First Assembly of God in West Memphis, Arkansas 26 years ago I really thought I could not love her any more than I did that moment. But today, 26 years later, I realize that that was just "puppy love" compared to the love I have for her today.

I recently heard a song at a wedding that expressed my love and appreciation that I have for my wife better than I could ever articulate with my own words, and I want to put them on my blog today:

Then lyrics

I remember, trying not to stare the night that I first met you
You had me mezmorized
And three weeks later, in the front porch light
taking forty-five minutes to kiss goodnight
I hadn't told you yet
but I thought I loved you then


And now you're my whole life
now you're my whole world
I just can't believe the way I feel about you, girl
Like a river meets the sea,
stronger than it's ever been.
We've come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then

And i remember, taking you back to right where I first met you,
You were so surprised
There were people around, but I didn't care
Got down on one knee right there once again,
I thought I loved you then


And now you're my whole life
now you're my whole world
I just can't believe the way I feel about you, girl
Like a river meets the sea,
stronger than it's ever been.
We've come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then

I could just see you, with a baby on the way
And I could just see you, when your hair is turning gray
What I can't see is how I'm ever gonna love you more
But I've said that before

And now you're my whole life
now you're my whole world
I just can't believe the way I feel about you, girl
We'll look back someday, at this moment that we're in
And I'll look at you and say
And I thought I loved you then
And I thought I loved you then

That sums up my thoughts, love, and thankfulness to God for the precious gift of my wife. She is my soul mate, my best friend, and an awesome mother grandmother of my four children, and two grandchildren! She is the most Christ-like person I know. I have lived with her for 26 years, and EVERY SINGLE DAY I see Jesus flowing through her.

"Dorinda, you are going to wake up soon, and they are going to rush you off for more tests…but we WILL celebrate today 26 wonderful years. I wouldn't trade them for the world and would do it all over again if given the chance! I love you and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!"


Tuesday, December 29, 2009



Colossians 3:15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ's] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].


Paul offers a strategy to help us live for God day by day is found in Colossians chapter 3: (1) Imitate Christ's compassionate, forgiving attitude (v. 12-13); (2) let love guide your life (v. 14); (3) let the peace of Christ rule in your heart (v. 15); (4) always be thankful (v. 15); (5) keep God's Word in you at all times (v. 16); (6) live as Jesus Christ's representative (v. 17).

The word rule
comes from the language of athletics: Paul tells us to let Christ's peace be umpire or referee in our heart. Our heart is the center of conflict because there our feelings and desires clash-our fears and hopes, distrust and trust, jealousy and love. How can we deal with these constant conflicts and live as God wants? Paul explains that we must decide between conflicting elements by using the rule of peace. Which choice will promote peace in our souls and in our churches?

God's peace is different from the world's peace. True peace is not found in positive thinking, in absence of conflict, or in good feelings. It comes from knowing that God is in control. Our citizenship in Christ's Kingdom is sure, our destiny is set, and we can have victory over sin. Let God's peace guard your heart against anxiety.


The "peace of God" in my life has been put to the test since this past Saturday night. My precious wife of 26 years (our anniversary is tomorrow!) passed out twice at home, and then five more times in the emergency room of the hospital. She has been in the hospital since then, with a battery of test being run on her. Yesterday while taking a thallium stress she passed out again. Her rate went from 148 to 28 in a matter of five seconds. The doctor has to massage her heart and give her medicine to get it started again. When I found this out, a panic tried to come over me. Fear, worry, doubt...emotions that attack our faith flared up in my spirit man. I got alone and said, "Lord I need a RHEMA Word from you today" and the Lord dropped Colossians into my mind. I felt God's peace begin to settle over me.

My wife was transferred to a hospital in Memphis last night, but I woke up this morning with that same peace, and have determined to allow that peace to "rule" my heart today. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for her. Please continue.

Jesus said in John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heat be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

The end result of the Holy Spirit's work in our lives is deep and lasting peace. Unlike worldly peace, which is usually defined as the absence of conflict, this peace is confident assurance in any circumstance; with Christ's peace, we have no need to fear the present or the future. Sin, fear, uncertainty, doubt, and numerous other forces are at war within us. The peace of God moves into our hearts and lives to restrain these hostile forces and offer comfort in place of conflict. Jesus says he will give us that peace if we are willing to accept it from him. If your life is full of stress, allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with Christ's peace


"Lord, I am so thankful for Your peace that truly is beyond understanding. I choose today to allow it to RULE my heart. What a deep and lasting peace that you have give me this morning. That doesn't mean there is an absence of a problem, it just means that YOU are with me in the midst of the problem. I love you Lord, and look forward to today's daily bread. In Jesus' name, amen."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas-John 3:16


John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.


The message of the Good News comes to a focus in this verse. God's love is not static or self- centered; it reaches out and draws others in. Here God sets the pattern of true love, the basis for all love relationships—when you love someone dearly, you are willing to give freely to the point of self-sacrifice. God paid dearly with the life of his Son, the highest price he could pay. Jesus accepted our punishment, paid the price for our sins, and then offered us the new life that he had bought for us. When we share the Good News with others, our love must be like Jesus'—willingly giving up our own comfort and security so that others might join us in receiving God's love.

Some people are repulsed by the idea of eternal life because their lives are miserable. But eternal life is not an extension of a person's miserable, mortal life; eternal life is God's life embodied in Christ given to all believers now as a guarantee that they will live forever. In eternal life there is no death, sickness, enemy, evil, or sin. When we don't know Christ, we make choices as though this life is all we have. In reality, this life is just the introduction to eternity. Receive this new life by faith and begin to evaluate all that happens from an eternal perspective.

To "believe" is more than intellectual agreement that Jesus is God. It means to put our trust and confidence in him that he alone can save us. It is to put Christ in charge of our present plans and eternal destiny. Believing is both trusting his words as reliable, and relying on him for the power to change. If you have never trusted Christ, let this promise of everlasting life be yours—and believe.


In the city of Chicago, one cold, dark night, a blizzard was setting in. A little boy was selling newspapers on the corner. The people were in and out of the cold. The little boy was so cold that he wasn't trying to sell many papers. He walked up to a policeman and said:

"Mister, you wouldn't happen to know where a poor boy could find a warm place to sleep tonight would you? You see, I sleep in a box up around the corner there and down the alley and it's awful cold in there for tonight.

Sure would be nice to have a warm place to stay."

The policeman looked down at the little boy and said, "You go down the street to that big white house and you knock on the door. When they come out the door you just say John 3:16, and they will let you in." So he did.

He walked up the steps and knocked on the door, and a lady answered. He looked up and said, "John 3:16"

The lady said, "Come on in son." She took him in and she sat him down in a split bottom rocker in front of a real big, old fireplace, and she went off.

The boy sat there for a while and thought to himself: John 3:16.......I don't understand it, but it sure makes a cold boy warm.

Later, she came back and asked him, "Are you hungry?" He said, "Well, just a little. I haven't eaten in a couple of days and I guess I could stand a little bit of food."

The lady took him in the kitchen and sat him down to a table full of wonderful food. He ate and ate until he couldn't eat any more. Then he thought to himself: John 3:16..... boy, I sure don't understand it but it sure makes a hungry boy full.

She took him upstairs to a bathroom to a huge bathtub filled with warm water, and he sat there and soaked for a while. As he soaked, he thought to himself: John 3:16..... I sure don't understand it but it sure does make a dirty boy clean.

You know, I've not had a real bath in my whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in front of that big old fire hydrant as they flushed it out.

The lady came in and got him. She took him to a room, tucked him into a big old feather bed, pulled the covers up around his neck, kissed him goodnight and turned out the lights. As he lay in the darkness and looked out the window, at the snow coming down on that cold night, he thought to himself: John 3:16.... I don't understand it but it sure makes a tired boy rested.

The next morning, the lady came back up and took him down again to that same table full of food. After he ate, she took him down again to that same big old split bottom rocker in front of the fireplace and picked up a big old Bible. She sat down in front of him and looked into his young face.

"Do you understand John 3:16?" she asked gently.

He replied, "No ma'am, I don't. The first time I ever heard it was last night when the policeman told me to use it."

She opened the Bible to John 3:16 and began to explain to him about Jesus. Right there, in front of that big old fireplace, he gave his heart and life to Jesus. He sat there and thought: John 3:16. I don't understand it, but it sure makes a lost boy feel safe.

You know, I have to confess I don't understand it either, how God was willing to send His Son to die for me, and how Jesus would agree to do such a thing.

I don't understand the agony of the Father and every angel in Heaven as they watched Jesus suffer and die. I don't understand the intense love for ME that kept Jesus on the cross till the end. I don't understand it, but it sure does make life worth living.

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

That really does sum up what Christmas means, doesn't it?

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!


"Lord, thank you so much that you were willing for "the Word to become flesh, and dwell among us." That is what Christmas is all about. You were born to die…die for my sins. The wages of sin was DEATH, but the GIFT of God was eternal life through Jesus Christ. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus! And…Happy Birthday! In Jesus' name, amen!"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Out of the Manger


Luke 2:4-14 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. (5) He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. (6) While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, (7) and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (8) And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (9) An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. (10) But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (11) Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (12) This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (13) Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, (14) "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."


The Romans ruled the civilized world at this time. By contrast, Joseph controlled very little. Against his better judgment and political convictions, he complied with the Roman order to make a long trip just to pay his taxes. His fiancée, who had to go with him, was about to give birth.

The Romans were in control insofar as human authority can get its way by exerting human power. But the Romans did not recognize their limitations. In reality, God controls the world. In all times and places, he works his will. By the decree of Emperor Augustus, Jesus was born in the very town prophesied for his birth (Micah 5:2), even though his parents did not live there. Joseph and Mary were both descendants of David. The Old Testament is filled with prophecies that the Messiah would be born in David's royal line (see, for example, Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 33:15; Ezekiel 37:24; Hosea 3:5). Rome made the decree, just as God intended.

Strips of cloth were used to keep a baby warm and give him a sense of security. These cloths were believed to protect his internal organs. The custom of wrapping infants this way is still practiced in many Mid-eastern countries.

This mention of the manger is the basis for the traditional belief that Jesus was born in a stable. Stables were often caves with feeding troughs (mangers) carved into the rock walls. Despite popular Christmas card pictures, the surroundings were dark and dirty. This was not the atmosphere the Jews expected as the birthplace of the Messiah-King. They thought their promised Messiah would be born in royal surroundings. We should not limit God by our expectations. He is at work wherever he is needed in our sin-darkened and dirty world.

Although our first picture of Jesus is as a baby in a manger, it must not be our last. The Christ child in the manger is the subject of a beautiful Christmas scene, but we must not leave him there. This tiny, helpless baby lived an amazing life, died for us, ascended to heaven, and will return to earth as King of kings. Christ will rule the world and judge all people according to their decisions about him. Do you still picture Jesus as a baby in a manger-or is he your Lord? Make sure you don't underestimate Jesus. Let him grow up in your life.


The art, music, and pageantry of Christmas focus on the "little town of Bethlehem" and the baby asleep in a manger. What mother can't close her eyes and recall her own child asleep in the crib? We delight in these precious expressions of the coming of Jesus into the world.

But we can't let a baby in a manger be the only part of our understanding of Christ. We don't bow in homage to a sleeping child. We have a living, vital relationship with the crucified, risen, glorified Christ!

First Samuel 7 tells us how the ark of the covenant, the very symbol of God's presence and power, had long languished in a remote village (v.2). The nation of Israel had not revered the Almighty God in a long time. He was shelved, forgotten.

How could they do such a thing? Yet many of us show the same memory lapse. Do we think of Jesus only at Christmastime? Do our only thoughts of the King of all creation picture Him as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes? Then we're still missing the true message of Christmas!

We can't keep Jesus in a nativity scene. He longs for a living, dynamic relationship with us. Just as Israel brought the ark out of obscurity and into everyday life, so let us bring Christ out of the cradle and into our lives.


"Lord, I am so thankful that You were born to this world. The Word became FLESH and dwelt among us. Because You did that, you are "touched with the feeling of our infirmities" and you left a great example for us to follow. During this Christmas season, help me to make sure that I don't keep you in the manger, because you long for a dynamic relationship with me. I choose today to bring you into every area of my life. I am so thankful that you got out of the manger, lived a sinless life, died for my sins, rose from the dead, ascended to the Father, and promised that You were coming back for us. My heart is filled with thanksgiving, peace, and hope as I celebrate Your birth, and allow Your life to be seen through my every day decisions and choices. In Jesus' name! Amen!"

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Word became Flesh


John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


"The Word became human." By doing so, Christ became (1) the perfect teacher-in Jesus' life we see how God thinks and therefore how we should think (Phil 2:5-11); (2) the perfect example-as a model of what we are to become, he shows us how to live and gives us the power to live that way (1 Peter 2:21); (3) the perfect sacrifice-Jesus came as a sacrifice for all sins, and his death satisfied God's requirements for the removal of sin (Col 1:15-23).

"The Father's one and only Son" means Jesus is God's only and unique Son. The emphasis is on unique. Jesus is one of a kind and enjoys a relationship with God. He is unlike all believers, who are called "children of God."

When Jesus was conceived, God became a man. He was not part man and part God; he was completely human and completely divine (Col 2:9). Before Christ came, people could know God partially. After Christ came, people could know God fully because he became visible and tangible in Christ. Christ is the perfect expression of God in human form. The two most common errors people make about Jesus are to minimize his humanity or to minimize his divinity. Jesus is both God and man. "The Word became flesh!"


There was a man who didn't wan to go to Christmas Eve services with his wife. He had decided not to go because he couldn't believe the whole jest of the gospel story. It just didn't make much sense to him. As he settled into his comfortable chair, and picked up the evening newspaper, he noticed that it was beginning to snow. Later as he glanced over the top of the paper, he noticed that the wind had picked up and the snow was coming down even harder. He went back to his reading, when he was suddenly brought back to reality by a large noise at the large front picture window. The noise happened again and again, so he decided he better check it out. When he got to the window, he noticed a couple of small sparrow had flown into the glass pane and were fluttering in the snow drift below. He could see through the snow, a larger group of birds perched in the bushes and shivering. He thought about their plight, so he slowly went to the hall closet, put on his overcoat, and boots and went out the front door.

He had decided to open the barn door so the birds could roost in the shelter for the night. He picked up the wounded sparrows and brought them to the barn hoping that the other birds would hear their chirping and follow.

But they didn't. So he thought of using the Hansel and Gretel trick of placing bread crumbs on the path to the barn. Certainly, he thought, the hungry little birds would follow. But they didn't. The man didn't know what to do next, so decided to get a broom and chase the birds into the bar. But this proved futile also, for the waving of the broom just scared the birds even more.

Finally in a state of exhaustion he sat down n on the barn step and and thought: If only I could talk to them. Let them know I wanted to help them and save them from the cold winter storm. But I can't unless I could become one of them... become one of them." Then the church bells began to ring and the man knelt in the deep show and said, " Thank you God for becoming man".


"Lord, I am so thankful that you became one of us. You saw us in our helplessness and you became our help. You saw us in our despair and you became our hope. You saw us in our sickness and you became our healing. You saw us in our sin and you became our redemption. I praise You Lord that you left the splendors of heaven and became flesh so you can not only pay for our sins, but leave us an example to follow. Thank you for paving the path back to our Heavenly Father. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Friday, December 18, 2009

“That’s My King!”


Revelation 19:11-16 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. (12) His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. (13) He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. (14) The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (15) Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (16) On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.


The name "Faithful and True" in v. 11 contrasts with the faithless and deceitful Babylon described in Revelation 18.

John's vision shifts again. Heaven opens, and Jesus appears-this time not as a Lamb but as a warrior on a white horse (symbolizing victory). Jesus came first as a Lamb to be a sacrifice for sin, but he will return as a conqueror and king to execute judgment (2 Thessalonian 1:7-10). Jesus' first coming brought forgiveness; his second will bring judgment. The battle lines have been drawn between God and evil, and the world is waiting for the King to ride onto the field.

His name written on His vesture and on His thigh, was written partly on the vesture, partly on the thigh itself, at the part where in an equestrian figure the robe drops from the thigh. The thigh symbolizes Christ's humanity as having come, after the flesh, from the loins of David, and now appearing as the glorified "Son of man." On the other hand, His incommunicable divine name, "which no man knew," is on His head.


For today's application, I would like to share with you a portion of a sermon by Dr. S.M. Lockeridge entitled, "That's my King!" I believe you will enjoy it:

"My King was born King. The Bible says He's a Seven Way King. He's the King of the Jews - that's an Ethnic King. He's the King of Israel - that's a National King. He's the King of righteousness. He's the King of the ages. He's the King of Heaven. He's the King of glory. He's the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now that's my King.

Well, I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? Do you know my King? David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. My King is the only one of whom there are no means of measure that can define His limitless love. No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of the shore of His supplies. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.

He's enduringly strong. He's entirely sincere. He's eternally steadfast. He's immortally graceful. He's imperially powerful. He's impartially merciful. That's my King. He's God's Son. He's the sinner's saviour. He's the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He's honest. He's unique. He's unparalleled. He's unprecedented. He's supreme. He's pre-eminent. He's the grandest idea in literature. He's the highest personality in philosophy. He's the supreme problem in higher criticism. He's the fundamental doctrine of historic theology. He's the carnal necessity of spiritual religion. That's my King.

He's the miracle of the age. He's the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. He's the only one able to supply all our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He's available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He's the Almighty God who guides and keeps all his people. He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharged debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek. That's my King.

Do you know Him? Well, my King is a King of knowledge. He's the wellspring of wisdom. He's the doorway of deliverance. He's the pathway of peace. He's the roadway of righteousness. He's the highway of holiness. He's the gateway of glory. He's the master of the mighty. He's the captain of the conquerors. He's the head of the heroes. He's the leader of the legislatures. He's the overseer of the overcomers. He's the governor of governors. He's the prince of princes. He's the King of kings and He's the Lord of lords. That's my King.

His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I wish I could describe Him to you . . . but He's indescribable. That's my King. He's incomprehensible, He's invincible, and He is irresistible.

I'm coming to tell you this, that the heavens of heavens can't contain Him, let alone some man explain Him. You can't get Him out of your mind. You can't get Him off of your hands. You can't outlive Him and you can't live without Him. The Pharisees couldn't stand Him, but they found out they couldn't stop Him. Pilate couldn't find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn't get their testimonies to agree about Him. Herod couldn't kill Him. Death couldn't handle Him and the grave couldn't hold Him. That's my King.

He always has been and He always will be. I'm talking about the fact that He had no predecessor and He'll have no successor. There's nobody before Him and there'll be nobody after Him. You can't impeach Him and He's not going to resign. That's my King! That's my King!

Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Well, all the power belongs to my King. We're around here talking about black power and white power and green power, but in the end all that matters is God's power. Thine is the power. Yeah. And the glory. We try to get prestige and honor and glory for ourselves, but the glory is all His. Yes. Thine is the Kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever and ever and ever. How long is that? Forever and ever and ever and ever. . . And when you get through with all of the ever's, then . . .Amen!"


"Lord, I am so thankful that you are truly my King! You are the one that I serve and live for. I honor you, I worship you, I thank you, and I recognize Your Lordship and leading in my life. During the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, may I daily be reminded that the reason I am celebrating is because of YOU...MY KING! In Jesus' name, amen!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009



Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.


In a time of great darkness, God promised to send a light who would shine on everyone living in the shadow of death. He is both "Wonderful Counselor" and "Mighty God." This message of hope was fulfilled in the birth of Christ and the establishment of his eternal Kingdom. He came to deliver all people from their slavery to sin.

This child, who would become their deliverer, is the Messiah, Jesus. Matthew quotes these verses in describing Christ's ministry (Matthew 4:15-16). The territories of Zebulun and Naphtali represent the northern kingdom as a whole. These were also the territories where Jesus grew up and often ministered; this is why they would see "a great light."


Ira Sankey provided the music for D. L. Moody's evangelistic meetings. One night after singing a solo called "The Shepherd's Song" a stranger asked him, "Did you serve in the Union Army?" When he said he had, the man asked, "Were you on picket duty one bright moonlit night in1860?" When Sankey said yes, the man continued: "Me too. But I was in the Confederate Army, and when I saw you I decided to kill you. Then you started singing that song, so I took my finger off the trigger, thinking, 'I'll let him sing then I'll shoot him." But you stirred up so many childhood memories of my Godly mother that it was impossible for me to follow through. That night when I thought of the God who saved you from certain death, my arm went limp."

Such stories aren't unusual. One Christmas during WW1 as Americans and Germans were in their bunkers, somebody started singing, "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Immediately men who'd been shooting at each another started singing in German and English, "O holy Child of Bethlehem! Descend to us we pray; Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today. We hear the Christmas Angels the great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord, Emmanuel." Jesus is "The Prince of Peace," (Isaiah 9:6), and the Bible says, "Of… his government and peace there will be no end." Where Christ rules, there's peace. Whether it's a sniper preparing to pick off a sentry, or a spouse planning to explode in anger, Jesus can change hearts and bring peace - if you let Him!

Worry is something you permit; peace is something you pursue. Jesus said, "Do not permit yourselves to be fearful." That means you can take control of what goes on in your mind. How? By doing two things:

(1) By filling it with God's Word. Not just the Word you read casually, but the Word you process mentally, apply to each circumstance, and stand on in times of crisis.

(2) By placing each situation into God's hands, and leaving it there with confidence. Here's a prayer to help you do just that:


"Lord, everything's in a panic! Everybody wants a piece of me. There's far too much to do and never enough hours to do it. My head is clogged with all kinds of junk and my heart is ready to break. Lord, where are You? I feel like the disciples when the storm came up and the winds and waves rocked their boat. My cry is the same as theirs, 'Somebody go get Jesus - I'm about to drown out here!' The storms of my life have all but sunk my boat - I can't take much more. Prince of Peace I need You. Father, who never slumbers nor sleeps, take charge. I need the comfort and courage that comes from Your Spirit. Speak Lord, for the wind still remembers the sound of Your voice. Let me find in You a quiet place, a place where I can pillow my head on Your chest, hear Your heartbeat, and feel secure. In Jesus' name, Amen."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christ IN you, the Hope of Glory


Colossians 1:27 (MSG) God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple. That is the substance of our Message.

Colossians 1:27 (NIV) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.


The false teachers in the Colossian church believed that spiritual perfection was a secret and hidden plan that only a few privileged people could discover. Their secret plan was meant to be exclusive. Paul said that he was proclaiming the entire message of God, not just a part of the plan. He also called God's plan a "message . . . kept secret for centuries and generations past," not in the sense that only a few would understand, but because it was hidden until Christ came. Through Christ it was made open to all. God's secret plan is "Christ lives in you"-God planned to have his Son, Jesus Christ, live in the hearts of all who believe in him-even Gentiles like the Colossians. Do you know Christ? He is not hidden if you will come to him.


The Virgin birth is more than just another Christmas story; it illustrates just how close God wants to get to you. In fact, He's asking you the same question He asked Mary, "Are you willing to let me move in?" Throughout scripture it's always been His desire to get close to His people. He told the disciples, "I am in you" (John 14:20). Paul prayed, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts" (Ephesians 3:17) John says, "Those who obey… live in him, and he in them" (1 John 3:24). Paul wrote, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27), then he added: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). And Jesus said, "If any one… opens the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20).

In the Old Testament God was with Adam and Eve in the Garden… He was with Abraham, and even called him His friend… He was with Moses and the Israelite. But as a believer He's in you - and He'll keep growing in you, and as He does, He comes out in what you say, how you act and the decisions you make. Do you struggle with bitterness, worry, habits and fear? Not Jesus! And because He lives in you, you have access 24/7 to His limitless power! That's how come Paul writes about "striving according to His power, which mightily works within us" (Colossians 1:29). What's in you? "His power!" What more do you need? Remember when the Angel appeared to Mary and she said, "Be it done… according to your word" (Luke 1:38)? Make that your prayer this Christmas!


"Lord, yesterday I studied how You are WITH ME as Immanuel. Today, I am so thankful that you are IN ME as Christ, my Savior and Lord. I am so thankful that you are being formed in me, and I am daily striving to allow Your character to be seen through my words, choices, attitudes, etc. I ask today, as Mary did, 'Be it done according to your Word.' Thank you Lord, for giving me the great HOPE that I have today. In this day, I refuse to be bitter, depressed, discouraged, or in despair. Because you are my hope, I will savor this day and realize that you will provide my daily bread. You have provided me already with new compassion and mercy, they are new every morning. You have given me my breath. Your Word says in Job 34:13-15 "He's the one who runs the earth! He cradles the whole world in his hand! (14) If he decided to hold his breath, (15) every man, woman, and child would die for lack of air." I understand that you hold my life in your hands. You are giving me the breath to breathe at this very moment, and as long as I have your breath, I have YOUR hope. I love you Lord, and I am so thankful that you are IN ME. In jesus' name, amen!"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Immanuel-God WITH us


Matthew 1:20-25 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (21) She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (22) All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: (23) "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"-which means, "God with us." (24) When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. (25) But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.


The Incarnation took place by the agency of the Holy Spirit in the life of a young woman referred to as a virgin. The passage tells us that Mary was betrothed to Joseph, and that they had not consummated their marriage in sexual relationship. It refers to Joseph as her husband, yet in the angel's message Joseph is addressed as Son of David and urged not to hesitate to go through with his marriage to Mary, who is referred to as his wife.

To understand this one must recognize that in Jewish marriage there were three steps. The first step was the engagement, a contract arranged by family members who determined whether the couple would be well suited for each other and for a future marriage. Second, there was the betrothal, the public ratification of the engagement, with a period of one year for the couple to become known as belonging to each other, but not having the rights of living together as husband and wife. The only way a betrothal could be terminated was by a divorce. In Jewish law there is a phrase which states that a young woman whose fiancé dies during the period of betrothal is called "a virgin who is a widow." Mary and Joseph were in the second stage in the account of this text. The third stage is the marriage proper, which took place at the end of the year of betrothal.

It was during the year of their betrothal that Mary made known to Joseph that she was with child by the miraculous act of God. Joseph is referred to as a just man with special love and consideration for Mary. Confronted with the problem of his betrothed being pregnant, he contemplated how to end the betrothal in a divorce. He sought ways to do it privately rather than to expose her publicly. In his careful contemplation, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph with a message from God.

This passage of Scripture deals strikingly with the Incarnation. The birth of the King is referred to in three ways: (1) Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Matthew 1:18; (2) Jesus, the Savior, Mat_1:21; and (3) Immanuel, meaning "God with us," Matthew 1:23. Christ is the Greek form of the Hebrew word for Messiah. "Jesus," or "Joshua," means "Yahweh is salvation." Immanuel, from Isaiah 7:14, speaks of the deliverance of Yahweh, a deliverance so striking that the mother would call her child Immanuel, "God with us."


School was out and 10-year-old Charlie was thrilled to be out of London celebrating Christmas in the country. Driving along the winding roads with his mother, he was captivated by the snowy winter landscape. But suddenly the snow got heavy, the visibility turned bad and the car slid out of control ending up in a ditch. Charlie tried to push while his mother pressed the accelerator, but it was no use. They left the car and walked down the road where they knocked on the door of a little house and asked for help. Flustered, the lady invited them in to use the phone and warm up while she made tea and cookies.

"What's so special about that?" you may be asking. "Just another everyday event, right?" No. At least not to the woman who opened the door that day; she's already told the story hundreds of times. And can you blame her? It's not everyday the Queen of England and Charles, Prince of Wales turn up on your doorstep!

It happened one night over 2,000 years ago the Prince of Peace knocked on our door - and it was no accident. The Bible says it "happened to fulfill the Lord's message… He will be called Immanuel… God is with us."

John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Christmas can be a lonely time if you've lost your job or your family or your sense of hope. And the joy of others can be a painful reminder of what you've lost. But you're not alone. You may feel lonely, but you're not alone - God is with you. He really is! Believe that, and have a blessed Christmas! I love you guys!


"Lord, I thank you today that You came TO US, so that I can truly say that God is WITH US. That is shouting ground! You, the Giver of life, the Creator of everything, the Overcomer, the Alpha and Omega, the Author and the Finisher of my WITH ME. Thank you for that promise Lord! Because You are with us, I can be assured that even though I am hard pressed on every side, I am not crushed; even though today I may be perplexed, because you are WITH ME, I am not in despair; even though I may be persecuted, thank you Lord that I am not abandoned; I may be struck down, but I am not, nor will I be, destroyed. I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord. And the reason that is so, is because You are Immanuel...God WITH US! When I am lonely, you are with me. When I am discouraged, you are with me. When I am battling depression, you are with me. When I am in pain, you are with me. When I am confused, you are with me. When I am sick, you are with me. When I feel rejected, you are with me. When I am having relational struggles, you are with me. When I am battling spiritually, you are with me. When I am battling worry, you are with me. When I am facing fear, you are with me. When I am struggling financially, you are with me. When I am sad, when everyone around me seems happy, you are with me. When I am facing the Holiday season with the pain of a lost loved one, YOU ARE WITH ME. I love you Lord, and I am so thankful today that you are STILL Immanuel...God with us! In Jesus' name, amen!"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jesus sympathizes with my weakness!


Hebrews 4:13-16 (msg) Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it--no matter what. (14) Now that we know what we have--Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God--let's not let it slip through our fingers. (15) We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all--all but the sin. (16) So let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.


Nothing can be hidden from God. He knows about everyone everywhere, and everything about us is wide open to his all-seeing eyes. God sees all we do and knows all we think. Even when we are unaware of his presence, he is there. When we try to hide from him, he sees us. We can have no secrets from God. It is comforting to realize that although God knows us intimately, he still loves us.

Christ is superior to the priests, and his priesthood is superior to their priesthood. To the Jews, the high priest was the highest religious authority in the land. He alone entered the Most Holy Place in the Temple once a year to make atonement for the sins of the whole nation (Leviticus 16). Like the high priest, Jesus mediates between God and us. As humanity's representative, he intercedes for us before God. As God's representative, he assures us of God's forgiveness. Jesus has more authority than the Jewish high priests because he is truly God and truly man. Unlike the high priest, who could go before God only once a year, Christ is always at God's right hand, interceding for us. He is always available to hear us when we pray.

Jesus is like us because he experienced a full range of temptations throughout his life as a human being. We can be comforted knowing that Jesus faced temptation-he can sympathize with us. We can be encouraged knowing that Jesus faced temptation without giving in to sin. He shows us that we do not have to sin when facing the seductive lure of temptation. Jesus is the only perfect human being who has ever lived.


How does this apply to me?

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses-Our High Priest is not cold and unfeeling. That is, we have one who is abundantly qualified to sympathize with us in our afflictions, and to whom, we may look to for help and support in trials. If He had been a high priest who was cold and heartless; who simply performed the external duties of his office without entering into the sympathies of those who came to seek for pardon; who had never experienced any trials, and who felt himself above those who sought his aid, we should certainly feel disheartened in attempting to overcome our sins, and to live for God. His coldness would repel us; his stateliness would awe us; his distance and reserve would keep us away, and perhaps render us indifferent to all desire to be saved. But tenderness and sympathy attract those who are feeble, and kindness does more than anything else to encourage those who have to encounter difficulties and dangers.

Such tenderness and sympathy has our Great High Priest. Prayer is our approach to God, and we are to come "boldly." Some Christians approach God meekly with heads hung low, afraid to ask him to meet their needs. Others pray flippantly, giving little thought to what they say. We can come with reverence because he is our King. But also come with bold assurance because he is our Friend and Counselor.

We live in a time where so often we are "out of touch" in relationships, in style, in worship, in dress, etc. However, I am so thankful that Jesus, as our High Priest, is not out of touch with our reality. He has been through weakness and testing, He has "experienced it all-all but the sin." What a great encouragement today. There are many who worship "idols" made of money, stone, etc. I am so thankful that I do not pray to a God who is deaf, blind and unable to feel or sense my pain. But I serve a God who sees, hears, and is touched with the FEELING of my infirmity (feebleness, weakness or sickness). He truly is in touch with my pain, my struggles, my battles, my reality.

That is one of the many reasons that I want to: "walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help."


"Lord, I am so thankful that you are in touch with my reality. You know what the battles and struggles of this flesh is about, and how it feels. I thank you for taking on flesh and coming and dwelling among us. Because of that, I am encouraged that you know how I feel. You know what I'm going through when I face rejection. You know the feeling of betrayal. You know the frustration's of this flesh. You know the temptation to be angry and stay angry. You are truly in touch with my reality. I ask you to forgive me for the times that I have forgotten that you truly understand. That you are with me and will never bail out on me, or leave me. I love you Jesus, and I choose today to get what you have ready for me. I receive the mercy and accept the help. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Poisonous Spirit


Act 28:1-6 Once everyone was accounted for and we realized we had all made it, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. (2) The natives went out of their way to be friendly to us. The day was rainy and cold and we were already soaked to the bone, but they built a huge bonfire and gathered us around it. (3) Paul pitched in and helped. He had gathered up a bundle of sticks, but when he put it on the fire, a venomous snake, roused from its torpor by the heat, struck his hand and held on. (4) Seeing the snake hanging from Paul's hand like that, the natives jumped to the conclusion that he was a murderer getting his just deserts. (5) Paul shook the snake off into the fire, none the worse for wear. (6) They kept expecting him to drop dead, but when it was obvious he wasn't going to, they jumped to the conclusion that he was a god!


The island of Malta is 60 miles south of Sicily. It had excellent harbors and was ideally located for trade. The islanders on Malta were of Phoenician ancestry.

Dawn brought sight of land for Paul and his shipmates, They did not know that it was Malta. A beach on the land looked like a safe place to ground the ship. What they didn't know was that beneath the waters was a treacherous reef. They cut the four anchors, loosed the rudder ropes, and hoisted the mainsail. Then it happened. The prow of the ship stuck fast in the shoal and the stern was battered to pieces by the surging waves. There was nothing to do but abandon ship and grasp anything afloat to aid in swimming ashore. Paul and the other prisoners barely escaped execution. The soldiers wanted to kill them, fearing they would swim away and, once on land, would slip out of their grasp. Julius, the centurion, stepped in. Luke tells us that he wanted to save Paul. Was this allegiance to his duty to deliver the apostle to Rome, or in gratitude for what he had done to save their lives? I think the latter. He knew that they would not have made it if it had not been for Paul's leadership, prayers, and the blessing of his Lord. The apostle had made another friend. The account of what happened on Malta is further evidence of how the Lord will use everything for His glory and our effectiveness.

But something happened to Paul while building the fire that was even more convincing than his practical helpfulness. A viper was forced out of a crevice in one of the pieces of wood by the heat of the fire. It fastened itself to Paul's hand. This was a vivid picture: a leaping fire, the apostle in chains, a serpent dangling from his hand, and the natives of the island, as well as Paul's shipmates, looking on in horrified fright. The natives who had kindly greeted the survivors now expressed the superstition of their culture. The viper's attack was surely the just punishment of one they perceived to be a murderer on the way to his execution.

Paul, with customary calmness, shook the viper off his hand and went about his duties of helping others. The natives watched, waiting for his hand to swell and death to come. After a long time, when Paul was still joyously alive and active, the natives decided that this was no murderer but a god!


How does this apply to my life? There are several things that I would like to note:

Paul was still alive because of God's favor! Every where Paul went, he had enemies because of his preaching, but he also had dependable, trustworthy friends. I want to live my life so that God is able and willing to give me favor with men. There are so many things that need to be done in God's kingdom, but he is looking for men and women who will love the Lord God with all of their "heart, mind, soul, and strength" and "love his neighbor as himself." When we do that, expect God to reward that type of love with favor with God AND man.

Secondly, Paul never thought work was below him. He didn't have to, but he got right in and helped start the fire and bundle sticks. True, godly, pure leaders are not lazy. They are willing to do anything it takes to make someone or something successful!

Thirdly, as he placed wood onto the fire, and very venomous snake latched on to his hand and attempted to poison Paul. The poison SHOULD HAVE killed Paul. In fact the villagers watched and waited for Paul to die. He didn't! He shook off the snake into the fire. I noticed it said that the snake "wouldn't let go." It was stubbornly, and potentially fatally, latching onto Paul and refusing to let go. If Paul hadn't of shaken it off into the fire, I believe it would have killed him. But by faith, he took action and did something about the snake.

As I read that, God spoke into my heart that there are things in our life that poison our spirit and stubbornly hold on to us. It could be failures from the past, it could be offenses from years gone by, it could be dislike or hatred of a person, it could be unforgiveness...again, I could go on and on. But the bottom line is, I must shake that poisonous creature (spirit) into the fire. It is time to move on! It is time to walk in victory and to stop making excuses for the reason that I am allowing that poison into my life. I must adjust my attitude and begin to live like Jesus in every area of my life. How long will I allow the poison to effect my relationships with: my wife, my children, my co-workers, my church family, my friends? It is time to take action! It is time to move past your past! God can and will use your past today and in the future, if you stop allowing the poison to effect your spirit. King David cried out, "Lord, renew a right spirit within me" and God did. He will do the same for me!


"Lord, once again, I need your help. As I daily read your Word, you are showing me areas that I need to allow your Holy Spirit to work on inside of me. There are too many times that I allow a poisonous situation or person to stay attached to my spirit for days, weeks, months or years. This ought not to be! A poisonous spirit hinders my relationship with you and every other relationship that I have. Please forgive me for not "shaking the snake into the fire" and moving on joyfully with my life. I ponder, linger, relive situations where I have been hurt over and over again. I am sorry Lord, I am wrong. I cry out to you like King David did many years ago, 'create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Right now I make the decision to shake this poison off of my life and spirit and I will live victoriously. The way I shake this off of and out of my life is through your Word, prayer and meditation. I STOP talking about how I was wronged, and instead talk about how blessed that I really am. I decide today to focus on the good things in my life. I do that through thanksgiving and praise. Thank you Lord for revealing this to me this evening. I love you Lord, and thank you for helping the poison to be removed from my life! In Jesus name, amen!"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fresh Hope

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well. As I spent precious time with Jesus this morning, He spoke in to my spirit the following message. Please allow me to share some SOAP from the Word of God as we allow the "washing of water by the Word" (Ephesians 5:26)…


Acts 20:1-3 With things back to normal, Paul called the disciples together and encouraged them to keep up the good work in Ephesus. Then, saying his good-byes, he left for Macedonia. (2) Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope. Then he came to Greece (3) and stayed on for three months. Just as he was about to sail for Syria, the Jews cooked up a plot against him. So he went the other way, by land back through Macedonia, and gave them the slip.


Acts 20:1-16 maintains the chronology of Paul's third missionary journey. This was also a very important and productive time in his ministry. Checking corollary references in the epistles, we discover that some of his most refined theological dissertations which have blessed Christians through the ages were written during this period.Acts 20:1 sets the theme for this brief passage. It shows us the profound love Paul had for his newly won converts to Christ. He called the disciples to him before departing for Macedonia. The scene is a tender one, dramatizing the love they shared together in the bond of Christ.

The rest of this section is so much more than a travelogue. The same love Paul felt for his new friends in Ephesus pressed him on to strengthen believers in churches he had started. His route took him to Macedonia. There he wrote Second Corinthians (2 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Corinthians 9:2-4). The energetic mind of the apostle was focused on the needs of new Christians who needed encouragement, affirmation, and loving correction. Amazing-while visiting the Macedonian churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, his concern pressed on ahead to Corinth. When he arrived there, he encouraged the church and found time to write the Epistle to the Romans, his most comprehensive statement of the gospel. How blessed we are that he was given the vision to go to Rome and that his letter to the Christians there has been preserved as part of sacred Scripture.


As I think about the pressure that Paul was facing during the time of the text we are looking at today, I realize that I have never encountered anything near the stress and pressure that he had in his life at this time. He was constantly pursued by religious people. They not only wanted to destroy him, but they truly wanted to kill him. They tried to discredit him as an Apostle, and would go to any means to accomplish that feat. However...encouragement was a way of life for him. In spite of the personal problems he faced, he continued to be used of God to encourage. Notice verse two. Paul is coming away from a time of persecution and threats, yet he is the one who encouraged the disciples to keep up the good work. Then as he traveled, again facing constant threats and persecution, he did the following three things:

Gave constant encouragement! Paul was the encourager. One of his purposes in life was to encourage as many as he could each day. I truly want to encourage someone today. How about you? Too often we are discouragers with our words, expressions, body language. I am making up my mind RIGHT NOW to encourage someone. Every day from now on, my morning prayer is going to include, "Lord, lay someone on my heart today that I can encourage through email, text, phone call, in person, or via letter." What a way to live.

Secondly, he lifted their spirits! The disciples felt better about themselves and their Christian walk after spending some time with Paul. That is what happens when you lift someone's spirits. I have been with people before that when they left my presence, I felt horrible, as if I needed spiritual bath. They were so negative about everything and everybody. Without realizing it, they dampened or lowered my spirit. I NEVER want anyone to feel that their spirits are lowered after spending time with me. I plan to ask God to use me every day to lift someone's spirits. I want them to feel better about their walk and life in Christ.

Finally, he charged them with fresh hope! Wow! After spending time with Paul, just like a battery can be recharged, they were recharged in the area of hope. Paul was used to get their hopes up. Those around him were probably discouraged and wondering if God had forgotten about them, but this anointed, godly man reminded them to get their hopes up, to put their hopes in the God of hope. I have been around people who drained any hope that I had as rapidly as a remote car's battery can be drained by constant use. They leave and I feel like finding a cliff to jump off of. Dear Lord, please help me to never, ever cause anyone's hope to be drained from them by my words, or actions. I want to understand hope like King David did:

Acts 2:25-26 David said it all: I saw God before me for all time. Nothing can shake me; he's right by my side. (26) I'm glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I've pitched my tent in the land of hope.

I make the choice TODAY to, give constant encouragement, lift the spirits, and charge with fresh hope anyone that I come in contact with today! Today, I pitch my tent in the land of hope!


"Lord, I thank you so much for this powerful Word that has spoken into my Spirit and challenged me. Too often I do just the opposite of what I read today. Instead of giving encouragement, I can discourage. Instead of lifting someone's spirits, I can dampen them. And instead of charging someone with fresh hope, I can drain their hope. This is not what I want, nor what you want. So TODAY, my prayer is that you will help me to understand that you are going to give me divine appointments with individuals that need to be encouraged, to have their spirits lifted, and to be infused with fresh hope. I make a commitment right now to walk in the Spirit and allow you to nudge me towards the right words to write or speak. Forgive me Lord for anything that I have done or said to discourage and allow me to be constantly aware, from this point on of how you want to use me even while I am in the midst of pain and suffering. This life is not about me, it is about you. I love you Lord Jesus, and thank you for what you are teaching me daily. In Jesus name! Amen."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Every Spiritual Blessing in Christ


Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.


"Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms" means that in Christ we have all the benefits of knowing God-being chosen for salvation, being adopted as his children, forgiveness, insight, the gifts of the Spirit, power to do God's will, the hope of living forever with Christ. Because we have an intimate relationship with Christ, we can enjoy these blessings now. The "heavenly realms" means that these blessings are eternal, not temporal. The blessings come from Christ's spiritual realm, not the earthly realm of the goddess Artemis. Other references to the heavenly realms in this letter include Eph 1:20; Eph 2:6; Eph 3:10. Such passages reveal Christ in his victorious, exalted role as ruler of all.


As Paul thinks about the Lord, and the spiritual blessings that He had bestowed upon him, it breaks out into praise. The verses that follow v. 3 expound upon these blessings. THIS DAY I want to be the same way.

When I woke up this morning, I awakened to new mercy, daily bread, provision for my TODAY needs, all of my family is up and well, they are all saved and living for Jesus. I could go on and on. But as I think about this list, it makes me think of one of my favorite songs that our choir at First Assembly sings. The words are:

When I think about the Lord How He saved me, How he raised me How He filled me with the Holy Ghost How He healed me to the utter-most. When I think about the Lord How He picked me up and turned me around How He set my feet on solid ground It makes me wanna shout, "Hallelujah, thank you Jesus, Lord you're worthy of all the glory, And all the honor, and all the praise!"

I need to take the time right now to declare praise to the Lord! You see yesterday may have been tough, but it's gone. But tomorrow I may face a battle, but it's not here yet. But when it does get will be TODAY. And TODAY, "this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it." I can rejoice because

God promised to provide "daily bread" for me TODAY. Not tomorrow. I get burdened with cares and worries, when I try to find "daily bread" for tomorrow. God does not want me to live like that. I need to trust Him today. Because today He has truly blessed me with every spiritual blessing in Christ!

As Dale Carnegie said, "Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday."

I also read a quote from Kim Lyons this morning that said, "Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have - so spend it wisely"

If I live in the regrets of yesterday, and the worry of tomorrow, then I take for granted the provision of today. I don't want to live like that today! In fact, I WILL NOT live like that today. I will shout rejoice until the Lord. The one "who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."


"Lord, please forgive me for taking so many of your blessings for granted. I have to admit that I have lived in the regrets of yesterday way too often. I have also spent way too much time in the worries of tomorrow. I choose today to live in the provision of TODAY. The reason yesterday and tomorrow seem so heavy is that You never promised "daily bread" for tomorrow. Only for TODAY. So...this is THE DAY that you have made. I will rejoice and be glad in it as I think upon the blessings you have given me in the heavenly realms...every spiritual blessing in Christ! In Jesus' name, amen!"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Manna, Manna, Manna!


Numbers 11:1-6
The people fell to grumbling over their hard life.
GOD heard. When he heard his anger flared; then fire blazed up and burned the outer boundaries of the camp. (2) The people cried out for help to Moses; Moses prayed to GOD and the fire died down. (3) They named the place Taberah (Blaze) because fire from GOD had blazed up against them. (4) The riff-raff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, "Why can't we have meat? (5) We ate fish in Egypt--and got it free!--to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. (6)
But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna."


The Israelites complained, and then Moses complained. But God responded positively to Moses and negatively to the rest of the people. Why? The people complained to one another, and nothing was accomplished. Moses took his complaint to God, who could solve any problem. Many of us are good at complaining to each other. We need to learn to take our problems to the One who can do something about them.

Every morning the Israelites drew back their tent doors and witnessed a miracle. Covering the ground was pale yellow, fluffy manna-food from heaven. But soon that wasn't enough. Feeling it was their right to have more, they forgot what they already had. They didn't ask God to fill their need; instead, they demanded meat, and they stopped trusting God to care for them. "Give us meat to eat!" (Numbers 11:13) they complained to Moses as they reminisced about the good food they had in Egypt. God gave them what they asked for, but they paid dearly for it when a plague struck the camp (Numbers 11:18-20; Numbers 11:31-34). When you ask God for something, he may grant your request. But if you approach him with a sinful attitude, getting what you want may prove costly.


How does this apply to me?

Dissatisfaction comes when our attention shifts from what we have to what we don't have. The people of Israel didn't seem to notice what God was doing for them: setting them free, making them a nation, giving them a new land. They were so wrapped up in what God wasn't doing for them. They could think of nothing but the delicious Egyptian food they had left behind. Somehow they forgot that the brutal whip of Egyptian slavery was the cost of eating that food. Before we judge the Israelites too harshly, it's helpful to think about what occupies our attention most of the time. Are we grateful for what God has given us, or are we always thinking about what we would like to have? We should not allow our unfulfilled desires to cause us to forget God's gifts of life, food, health, work, and friends.

The Children of Israel did just that however. They found themselves complaining about the "blessings of God." Every morning God would literally pour out blessings from heaven. They would look around and Manna from heaven was all around them. They became so accustomed to God caring for their needs, that their daily thanksgiving and praise slowly, and subtly turned to complaining. Then the words from their mouth and the meditation from their hearts were..."Manna, Manna, Manna."

How often does my attitude reflect the same disregard for the loving care of provision of God? "Manna, Manna, Manna" I may say in disgust, instead of what should flow from my mouth when I think of my awesome God... "Holy, Holy, Holy."


"Lord, I am so guilty of waking up in the morning and focusing immediately on the problems of the day instead of the potential. Focusing on the storm of the day instead of the peace. Focusing on the sickness of the day instead of the Healer. Focusing on the need of the day instead of the provider. Focusing on the battle for the day instead of the King of Kings. Focusing on the lack of today instead of the Lord for this day. I ask you to forgive me, for I truly repent of that kind of attitude. Every single day you bless me in ways that I often overlook. I find my attitude the same as the Children of Israel, and even though my words may not, my actions declare, "Manna, manna, manna." I choose today to be thankful. For I am a blessed man, who serves an awesome, loving, providing God. You are creative in the ways that you bless me and my family. I love you Lord, and thank you for this day. I will rejoice and be glad in it...and thankful! In Jesus' name, amen."