Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Voice In The Storm

  
We like to look at the end of a year as the end of a chapter in our lives. Each new year brings new hope, new opportunities, and a fresh start. For many of us, we roll out a welcome mat for those prospects. The passing year may have been one of the hardest ones you’ve had to endure. You may have felt like Job did with all his trials and tribulations. You may have questioned God in what He has allowed to happen to you and why you’ve had to endure everything you’ve gone through. I’ve been there too.

If you’ve read the book of Job, then you know most of it is Job and his friends conversing trying to figure out why all the bad things have happened to him. Some think God is punishing him for secret sins, some think God is making an example out of him, and his own wife thinks he should just curse God and die. After each person gives their reasons and Job defends himself, he began to question things. Finally, in chapter 38, God speaks to him from the middle of the storm.

God was rough on Job. He asked him where he was when the foundations of the earth were set. He asked Job questions that only God had the answers to. Then in chapter 40 God asked Job, “Are you going to haul me, the Mighty God, into court and press charges?” (MSG) Job wisely answered in verse 3-5, “I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.” Even then, God asked him, “Do you presume to tell me what I’m doing wrong?”

God was pointing out to Job that in all of his wisdom and understanding, he knew nothing compared to God. He wanted him to understand that the God who created all things and knows all things knows what He’s doing and never took His eye off of Job. God knew what He was doing with Job and He knows what He’s doing in your life. He may not answer you out of the storm like He did for Job, but you can rest assured He knows what He’s doing. He has a plan and a greater knowledge of you and your future than you can comprehend.

Job’s response to God should be ours. Job answered GOD: “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head.” We are not to confuse the issues or second guess God’s purposes. We are to endure and to stay faithful to God in the process. In the end, God rewards us for our faithfulness and restores what the locust stole. Hang in there, trust God, and listen for His voice in the storm.

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Life Is A Journey

  
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” One of these things is certainty and one is not. It’s all the uncertainties that make our journey worthwhile. Life is anything but certain. No one is guaranteed anything and hard times fall on each of us. It’s God’s desire that we find Him on this journey and to find our purpose in Him. I Peter 1:18 says, “Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God” (MSG).

Even though life is not a destination, we all have one. Finding God, through His Son Jesus, determines that destination. Once we have a destination, we begin to plot our course just like any other trip. Even though we have a course laid out, there will be traffic, detours, pit stops, and other unforeseen events in our path creating the journey. Some of our best stories come from those things, and the same is true of our journey to Heaven.

Since none of us are perfect and all of us are incapable of living exactly like we are supposed to, our trip to Heaven gets a little bumpy. Those bumpy times are what creates our testimony. Even though we detour at times, go through construction, or find a bumpy road, God is there with us like a GPS constantly rerouting us and asking us to take a U-Turn. We make the choice of following His direction or our own.

In John 14, Jesus told the disciples that He was going away to Heaven and that they knew the way. They responded, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?” Jesus was inviting them and us on this journey to Heaven, but they were lost as we are sometimes. So Jesus responded, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!” He was telling us how to have a deep consciousness of God. It through knowing Him.

Wherever you are in this journey, it’s important to gain a greater consciousness of Him. There is no one who has a full knowledge of Him so there is always room to grow. Each one of us has to find it on our own. It doesn’t just come through reading the Bible or hearing about other people’s journey. It comes through having a relationship with Him. It comes through spending time praying, walking by faith, and in mediating on His Word. He’s calling each of us to a deeper knowledge and consciousness of who He is. The more you know Him, the more meaningful your journey will be.

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Risk Everything

  

With one year winding down and another about to begin, I think it’s always good to look back and reflect on the previous year. Ask yourself, “What went well? What do I wish would have happened differently? What changes do I need to make to have a better year next year?” You may be able to answer the first two pretty quickly, but take your time on the third. I would even recommend fasting and prayer so that you do the right things to get the right result.

When you read the story of Esther, you find that in the first month of the year, Haman sent out a decree to kill all Jews. Her first response was that she couldn’t do anything to change the course of her fate. She opted to stay silent and do nothing out of fear. What her uncle Moredecai knew was that if she did nothing, she would reap the consequences of doing nothing. If there was going to be a change, it required her to do what she had never done. It required great risk.

If you want a greater change in your life, you’re going to have to take a great risk. You can only guess what will result from the changes you make. Esther knew this too. That’s why she didn’t do it without seeking God first and having others pray with her. In Esther 4:16, she sent word to Moredecai saying, “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die” (NLT).

She was willing to risk everything to change everything, but she wasn’t willing to do it without fasting and prayer. If you feel like a major change is needed in your life next year, let me encourage you to seek God through fasting and prayer. Ask Him what you need to risk and change so He can do the miraculous for you. Ask Him to open doors that seem shut. Then, you will have to do what Esther did and take that step of faith that God asks you to do. Esther saved her people, not just because she prayed, but because she took a risk and went before the king uninvited.

I don’t know what stepping in front of a king looks like for you, but God can reveal it to you though fasting and prayer. Hebrews 11 is a chapter that reminds us of people who stepped out in faith and risked everything. They are the ones in the Bible who trusted God above all else, and they took risks without knowing they would get the reward. Verse 6 says, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” If you will have faith and seek God, He will reward your faith.

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O Holy Night

This by far is my favorite Christmas Carol. So many try to sing it, but so few do it justice. I have put my favorite part of this song in bold. I have also embedded one of my favorite versions of it below.

Oh holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angels voices
Oh night divine, Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine, Oh night, Oh night divine.

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever
His power and glory evermore proclaim

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices
Oh night divine, Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine, Oh night, Oh night Divine

Merry CHRISTmas!

If you are unable to play the video below, click here.

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I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

This time of year, it becomes obvious that many of us don’t remember much more than the first verse of most Christmas Carols. As we lead up to Christmas this week, I want to explore some powerful verses in some of my favorite carols.

  
On April 8, 1966, the Time magazine cover asked, “Is God Dead?” In a world where we have a telescope in space looking to the far reaches of the universe and using the Hadron Collider to try to find the “God particle”, many people wonder if there is a need for God in order to explain the creation of the universe and our existence. They see God only as an uneducated person’s explanation of the universe instead of a diety involved in our lives.

When we reduce God to just an explanation of creation, we allow Him to be seen as of no use and dead to society. When bad things happen in our culture, people always ask, “Where is God? Why did He allow that to happen?” But when we fail to put logs on a fire, we don’t ask, “Where is the heat? Why are we being allowed to freeze?” We can’t kick God out of our culture, schools, and government then ask where He is when bad things happen.

He sent His Son into the world to bring life and light into our darkness. John 1:4-5 says, “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (NLT). He was sent to right the wrongs of sin and to chase away the darkness that it brought. The star above the stable was representative of what He was doing. He was sending light into our world that will lead us to salvation.

There is a Christmas Carol called “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”. It’s very powerful and moving. Here’s the verse that stands out to me:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men.”

God is not dead, nor is He simply an explanation for our very being. He is a loving God who is involved in our daily lives. We were created with purpose and our lives have meaning. To think there is no God and that we are simply here by random chance is to say there is no right or wrong and that life has no meaning. God sent His Son to us to show us that we matter. He sent Him to show He cares about our struggles mentally, physically, and spiritually. He came to right the wrongs, to bring peace on earth, and goodwill to men. 

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Joy To The World

This time of year, it becomes obvious that many of us don’t remember much more than the first verse of most Christmas Carols. As we lead up to Christmas this week, I want to explore some powerful verses in some of my favorite carols.

  
If you’ve ever read the Genesis account of creation, you know that we were banned from Eden because of Adam and Eve’s inability to obey God’s simplest instruction. They had access to everything in Eden except for one tree. When they sinned through disobedience, God responded to Eve first and then to Adam. He told Adam the ground would be cursed and, “It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains” (NLT). The second Adam, Jesus, came to set us free of the spiritual aspect of that curse.

The third verse to “Joy To The a World” says the following:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as, the curse is found.

Because Jesus came to earth, sin no longer had free reign. The antidote to its effects came in the form of a baby born in Bethlehem. Galatians 3:13 says, “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law.” No more could sin grow, nor its spiritual thorns pierce our souls. The curse of sin was broken and joy was returned to the world for every heart that has prepared room for Him. There is no place the curse has gone that grace cannot find.

Each of us have been under the effects of the curse. Each of us have sinned against God according to Romans 3:23. It was while the world and each of us were in this helpless estate that God sent His Son to redeem us from the curse. You and I can return to spiritual Eden when we accept that the baby born in Bethlehem was the Son of God who sacrificed His physical life for our spiritual one. That night in the Judean hillside, Joy was indeed sent into the world.

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O Little Town Of Bethlehem 

This time of year, it becomes obvious that many of us don’t remember much more than the first verse of most Christmas Carols. As we lead up to Christmas this week, I want to explore some powerful verses in some of my favorite carols.

  
A few years ago, we were preparing for Christmas. I was putting gifts in boxes, then sliding them to my wife who was wrapping them. After she would wrap, she would ask who the gift was for. On one such gift, she looked at me with pen in hand expectantly. I looked at the box, smiled, and said, “That one is for you!” She had been so busy wrapping that she couldn’t remember what was on the box.

That’s kind of how God snuck the gift of our savior into the world. It wasn’t a big showy presentation. It was delivered in a barn through a humble girl who was barely known. The world would expect the King of Kings to get around the clock coverage, tweets wondering what His name would be, and hashtags so everyone could follow. But that’s not how God did it. He did it oppositely from the way we would have done it.

The lyrics of “O Little Town Of Bethlehem” described it like this:

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;

So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.

No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in

God silently sent us His gift of redemption. The path to Heaven was illuminated by a star instead of spotlights. It was announced to shepherds instead of to people of social stature. Those who were looking and listening for Him found a baby lying in a manger in the small town of Bethlehem, which wasn’t even the capital. God entered this world silently so that those who are seeking Him will find Him. Those who find Him and receive Him will have His peace live in their heart and their sins forgiven. Oh what a gift that was given in the little town of Bethlehem.

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