1 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us...God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

PSALMS - Victory in a Manger!

You know, I’m never quite sure where God’s going to lead me when I do a “Bible Pick ‘Ems!”

Today was no exception.

And God consistently shows me something from His Word.

Today was no exception!!

I found myself in Psalm 118.

Most of the Psalms were written by David, God’s chosen king, His mighty warrior. However, the author of Psalm 118 is listed as anonymous. And yet, this nameless author affirmed the confidence we can have in God’s eternal purposes.

“Though hostile nations surrounded me, I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. Yes, they surrounded me and attacked me…They swarmed around me like bees; they blazed against me like a crackling fire. But I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. My enemies did their best to kill me, but the LORD rescued me. The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory…The arm of the LORD has done glorious things! The strong right arm of the LORD is raised in triumph…I will not die; instead, I will live…”
(Psalm 118:10-17)

Tremendously inspiring, encouraging, comforting words, indeed.

But, I thought to myself, it’s the day after Christmas. Couldn’t the verses have had something to do with Jesus?

Then God said to me, “Read them with Jesus in mind.”

And oh, how another story unfolded!

Picture Mary and Joseph, with their brand-new baby son, Jesus. Shepherds had come to adore Him. And exotic wise men, too. It was a glorious moment…

Except, lurking in the background was King Herod.

Evil King Herod.

King Herod – who felt threatened by the thought of a newborn “King of the Jews.” Unbeknownst to Mary and Joseph, he had instructed the wise men to tell him, as soon as possible, where the new baby was located – because he wanted to “worship” Him.

My friends, Satan was behind this plot.

And Herod was a willing accomplice. He was ruthless.

And he wasn’t alone.

The Scriptures tell us that everyone in Jerusalem was disturbed. When Jesus was born into the world, people began to react immediately. There was a disturbance in the status quo. Emotions were all over the map – excitement, fear, comfort, insecurity, angerJesus, a mere baby, had begun His revolution…

Herod planned to kill Him.

We are told that God appeared to the wise men in a dream, and told them to avoid Herod at all costs - to go home by another route. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, and warned him to flee to Egypt, and stay there until it was safe to return.

I’ve got to hand it to Joseph – he was a very good husband, a very good father. He listened to the Voice of God, and he immediately obeyed. He took his very young family and fled.

Thereby saving the Savior of the world.

It wasn’t the last time that Satan and his cohort of angry little demons tried to kill the Son of God. His mission? To thwart the mission of Jesus – to sabotage the purpose of God. He tried everything, I’m sure.

But God protected His Son – and He protected Him until the day arrived to complete that awful, wonderful mission – to die on the cross in our place.

I’ll bet Satan thought he’d won. Killing God – what a coup!

Not so fast…

There’s an empty tomb coming!

Read today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” again – read the words as if JESUS is saying them. Hear His ringing Voice of authority. Hear His trumpet call of Victory. Glory in the wonder of God’ protection and providence.

And then, read the words again…

This time, YOU say them. They are your words, too.

Claim YOUR victory through them today!

Though surrounded by hostile forces – through Jesus, you will destroy them all.
Though they attack you, swarm like bees and blaze like fire – through Jesus, you have been given authority against them.
Though they try to kill you – through Jesus, you have been rescued.

Jesus is your strength and song.
Jesus is your victory.

Raise your arm in TRIUMPH!

Because of a baby, because of a life, because of a death, because of a resurrectionwe can stand with all the authority of Jesus and say…


Praise God Almighty…AMEN!

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

ROMANS - A Son is Born




I’m sure that a young girl, so many years ago, felt all of these things. She was nearing the time when she would give birth to her first child. A child, a blessed boy – because God had told her she would give birth to a son.
She was very excited.

Such delightful anticipation.

And yet, she didn’t know what to expect. What would it be like? Long and painful, of that she was sure – could she do it? And where exactly would she give birth? She hoped it would be at a nice inn, with warm and light-filled surroundings. So much she couldn’t know yet.

Such disturbing anxiety.

And oh…the most amazing thing of all. This wasn’t just a child – it was The Child – the Son of God. The Messiah – the Savior that her people had waited for, longed for, hoped for. The answer to their suffering – the Deliverer was coming to earth.

Such dramatic awe.

Mary – a young girl on the verge of being the vessel through whom God would save the world.

What joy she must have felt – and yet – what pain.

For her son was destined to die.

He was the first baby ever born for the specific purpose of sacrificing His life. Could Mary have anticipated the grief she would feel at the foot of the cross – seeing her Savior, seeing her son, dying a horrible death? Did she know He was dying for her?

Another parent felt joy at the birth of this child. And yet, He felt pain too.

God the Father sent His Son to be born into a dark and fallen world. It was His plan from time immemorial. It was His decision, it was His directive. And yet, one can only imagine the depth of God’s pain.

HE KNEW the true ugliness of sin.
HE KNEW the temptations, the sorrows, the suffering, the persecutions of this earthly realm.
HE KNEW a day was coming when He would have to turn His back on His ONLY Son - a perfect Son.
HE KNEW His Son would die – darkened by the stain of sin.
HE KNEW an agony that none of us will ever know.

But still, He sent His Son – right into Enemy Territory – right to the front lines.
He sent Him…

Because…of us.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” comes from the book of Romans.

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time…God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:6, 8)

Paul writes to his fellow believers in Rome – and to us, too – teaching and reminding us of the grand truth about Jesus Christ. Because of Him, we have entered into a place of undeserved privilege. We have been declared NOT GUILTY. Through Him, we have been drawn close to the Almighty God – we have become His children, we have become His friends.

We were weak and helpless – unable to do anything on our own to save ourselves. Someone had to come and rescue us.

God counted the cost of sending His Son to be born on this earth. And He declared it worth it.

Some thirty-three years later, Jesus made the same decision – and offered His life as a sacrifice for us. How incredibly blessed we are!

At just the right time, in just the right place, for the most “right” purpose of all – a young woman named Mary gave birth to the only Savior who could save us. A Savior who understood our weaknesses. A Savior who loved sinners just like His Father did – unconditionally and completely.

A Savior who was born – to die.

For us…

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” (Romans 5:11)

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2 SAMUEL - Like a Deer

I used to be a lot more coordinated when I was young.

I’m not saying that I’m a klutz(there’s plenty of other people that can say that for me!!) – it’s just that I’m not quite as steady as I used to be.

I had a rather nasty stumble this past September. One second I was walking – SPLAT – the next second I was flat on the ground. Falling can happen quickly.

It can happen quickly in our spiritual lives, too.

One second we’re walking along securely, confidently, in the Lord – content in our lives, sure in our faith – when something comes along to trip up our feet of faith.

We stumble, sometimes we fall.

We get “off track.”

There are many things that can happen to “trip us up” spiritually. It can be a “curve ball” life circumstance. It can be something that happens to us or to a loved one – an injury, or illness, or even death. It can be financial, or emotional, or physical. Sometimes it’s spiritual. It can be an attack from the enemy, a temptation.

What are we to do?

It doesn’t matter what the "upset" is that gets us off track. It doesn’t matter what took our focus off of God and His purposes.

He wants to restore us to sure footing.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” comes from the book of 2 Samuel:

“He [God] makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.” (2 Samuel 22:34)

How surefooted is a deer?

I like to watch documentaries about nature, especially about animals. I remember watching one that showed a deer trying to escape a predator. The predator was very swift, and was closing in on the tiny deer as it attempted to run away. All of a sudden, the deer began a rapid descent down a craggy, sheer cliff face. The predator tried to keep up, but the deer was always a little faster.

It was an amazing sight!

The little deer leaped from one stony outcropping to another. It balanced on surfaces barely larger than its little hooves. It scrambled over loose rocks, up and down, until the predator grew tired and gave up.

The deer ran with abandonment. It ran securely.

In today’s verses, David is praising God for being delivered from his enemies. He is acknowledging that it is only God who can make us “surefooted” enough to run with abandonment, to run securely.

God doesn’t promise to eliminate challenges from our lives. There will be treacherous cliff faces to negotiate. We will have to scramble our way through some tough life circumstances. We might even need to outrun an enemy.

But, God does promise to give us strength to meet these challenges. He will enable us to stand.

We cannot grow spiritually, we cannot have a strong faith without having to navigate some treacherous cliff faces from time to time.

Rough roads to walk, mountains to climb, battles to fight – these are what make patience and endurance manifest in our lives. These are what make us learn trust and obedience. These are what forge steadfast, immovable hearts that stand firm in the Lord.

Through all things, whether of our own mistakes, or the mistakes of others, or the frailties and fickleness of life circumstances, or the traps and temptations of the enemy – God is faithful to “keep us on track.”

He will strengthen us to run with abandonment, to run securely, to be “surefooted” on the crags, loose rocks, and sheer cliff faces of life.

For He desires to place us on the “heights!”

“You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.”
(Psalm 18:36)

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

PHILIPPIANS - The Season of Discontent

‘Tis the season to be buying…

Oh wait, that’s not how it’s supposed to go!

But isn’t that what happens?

We get overwhelmed with the media blitz that programs our willing little minds with the mantra, “Shop, shop, shop…”

Our church is doing a message series between Thanksgiving and Christmas called, “Consumed.”

It's a thought-provoking word. What consumes us?

I looked up the definition for the word “consume.” This is what it says:

“To spend wastefully; squander; use up; waste or burn away; perish.”

I’m not pointing fingers here! I’ve been a recovering “shopaholic” my whole life. It’s difficult not to WANT MORE. It’s even more difficult when you have the financial means to get more. And even when you don’t, there’s credit.

Oh yes, the urge to acquire is powerful.

But where does it come from?

Our pastor testifies that it started in the beginning. In a perfect place where EVERY need was provided by a loving and attentive God.

And that’s when “THE LIE” came –

The devil placed a niggling worm of doubt in the mind of Eve.

“Psst. God is withholding something from you – something GOOD.

Oh, that wily serpent. He implied that God was strict, stingy, and selfish. He got Eve to forget all that God had given her.

He moved Eve from a heart of gratitude to a mind of discontent.

He does the same thing to us. He gets us to focus on the ONE thing we DON’T have. And then, the seed begins to grow. We get “consumed” with what we think is “missing” from our lives – the one thing we “have” to have.

Discontent grows into resentment. And unchecked resentment grows into anger. And unchecked anger grows into bitterness.

We forget to be thankful. We allow gratitude to die.

How do we fight against this insidious attitude?

We battle with the truth!

God is good.

Life is dependence on God.

All life is a gift from Him.

That’s how we break the confusion. We dedicate ourselves to gratitude. We learn to cultivate contentment.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” completely enhances this valuable lesson. Listen to the words of Paul:

“…for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret to living in every situation…For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13)

Paul looked at life from GOD’S perspective.

He focused on what he was supposed to DO, not on what he felt he should HAVE.

We can learn some powerful lessons from Paul:

1) Set our priorities straight.
2) Be grateful for everything God has given us.
3) Detach ourselves from the nonessentials.
4) Concentrate on the eternal.
5) Fill up that “empty” place in our hearts with God – not with things.

Here’s how our pastor summed it up – Want what you have, and don’t want more.

Contentment is found right HERE – right where you are. It is a discipline of mind, and a surrender of heart.

It is rejecting society’s message to consume. It is resisting the urge to accumulate. It is refusing to fill empty places in our hearts with “stuff.”

It is renouncing the enemy’s lie.

It is claiming God’s goodness, and living like we believe it – single-mindedly, wholeheartedly.

The other definition for “consumed” is this: to be engaged fully, to be engrossed, held firmly, completely occupied!

Let GOD consume you…

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, November 28, 2010

1 TIMOTHY - Let's Get Spiritual!

“The Hub” has always been an athlete.

Tall, muscular, coordinated – a natural.

I’ve known him since we were both nine years old, in fourth grade. He was awesome back then, too.

The biggest thing I remember about him is how he could run – he was FAST!

We would have all sorts of track and field events back then. And “The Hub” was almost always a winner in the sprints. He always ran “anchor” on relay teams.

It was very cool to watch him run. He had this style where his whole body leaned forward, his hair would fly in the wind, and every part of his being would strain toward that finish line. He reminded me of a thoroughbred stallion…really!

As he grew older, he was an all-star softball player. Still fast, still strong – a natural.

“The Hub” knows the value of staying in shape – the importance of physical training.

Our society places much emphasis on physical fitness. Billions of dollars are spent each year on health supplements, gym memberships, diet programs, workout equipment, and the like.

But our “Bible Pick ‘Ems” for today emphasizes a different kind of training. Spiritual training.

“…train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come…This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God..”
(1 Timothy 4:7-8, 10)

What does it mean to train for godliness?

Well, what do we do for physical fitness?

1) We watch what we eat Likewise, spiritual nourishment is essential.

What do we feed our souls? Do we regularly spend time in the Word? Are we hiding it in our hearts, committing it to memory? Are we applying its words to our lives?

“But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)
“I have hidden your word in my heart…” (Psalm 119:11)

2) We exercise, do weight training, to increase our strength – Likewise, it’s necessary to increase our faith muscles, too.

Are we developing our faith by using our God-given abilities in the service of the Church? Are we stepping out of our “comfort zone” to stretch ourselves into new areas of ministry? Do we rely on the Holy Spirit to give us His strength and power?

“Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received…” (1 Timothy 4:14)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (Acts 1:8)

3) We work on developing stamina and endurance – Likewise, we must learn to be patient, and persevere through hardships and suffering.

Are we leaning on God to sustain us through any circumstance? Do we trust His timing? Are we obeying Him with patience?

“For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete.” (James 1:3)
“And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” (Romans 5:4)

4) We get plenty of rest – Likewise, it’s important to learn to rest, to have peace in the Lord.

Are we learning the secret of peace? Do we search for it, strive for it, pray for it?

“Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” (Psalm 34:14)
“Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life…” (Hebrews 12:14)

5) We have trainers and coaches – Likewise, we should turn to the Holy Spirit, to God’s Word, and to other believers for instruction.

Are we allowing ourselves to be taught, or do we think we know it all? Do we study the Bible? Do we pray for guidance and insight? Are we learning God’s wisdom?

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.”
(James 1:5)

Training for godliness.

The word ”train” implies daily, sustained effort.

It takes practice to be skilled in a particular sport. “The Hub” didn’t become a good athlete overnight. He worked at it…hard. In the same way, it takes practice to be skilled in living the Christian life.

We need to work at it.

God does not expect us to be perfect; He expects us to be growing. Our part in growing is exerting daily, sustained effort to apply His Word to our lives.

Highly skilled and talented athletes will lose their abilities if their muscles aren’t toned by constant use. Likewise, our faith will weaken if we don’t put it to work.

It’s so important…

We’re not just training for this life – we’re training ourselves for eternity.

“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life.” (2 Timothy 1:9)

Are you developing your spiritual muscles?

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

EZEKIEL - The Long Fall from Grace

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” lands us in the middle of Ezekiel, a very interesting book.

Ezekiel was one of the Major Prophets in the Old Testament. He had clear and vivid prophecies and visions. However, very little is known about his personal life. He was one of the thousands of young men deported from Judah to Babylon. Up until those tragic days, Ezekiel was being trained for the priesthood.

Like Isaiah, Ezekiel had a shocking encounter with God. He was never the same!

Whereas Isaiah had warned Judah of the coming storm – Ezekiel spoke in the middle of it. He prophesied in the middle of terrible defeat.

God described Ezekiel as a watchman on the walls of the city, capturing the personal nature of his ministry. Dangerous, responsible, crucial…

A central part of Ezekiel’s message was the importance of each person’s accountability before God. He taught the exiles that God expected personal worship and obedience from each of them.

Today’s verses are a reminder of what happens to the disobedient:

“…you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian…Your heart was filled with pride because of your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground…All who knew you were appalled at your fate. And you have come to a terrible end, and you will exist no more.” (Ezekiel 28:16-17, 19)

Some of the phrases in this passage describe the human king of Tyre. Tyre was the powerful capital of Phoenicia. It was a highly prosperous and beautiful city. However, pride caused its ruin.

At times, though, Ezekiel describes the king in terms that could not apply to a mere human. Therefore, he may have been condemning not only the king of Tyre, but Satan, who had tempted and motivated this king to sin.

And we all know that pride caused his ruin.

I take two messages out of this passage. First of all, there will be an end to prideful ways, and haughty people. There will be an end to Satan’s rule. The long fall from Heaven is only the first judgment of God against our enemy. He has a final judgment day ahead of him. And after that day, he “will exist no more.” I take comfort in that fact.

God cares about justice. Wickedness will not win out in the end.

The second message I take out of this passage is a warning. God exacts punishment against those who proudly set themselves up. He will not tolerate those who do not yield to His Sovereignty. He demands fearful worship, and a heart yielded to His purposes. Pride will cause ruin.

“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

Proud people are rarely aware of their weaknesses. They think they are above the frailties that plague others. However, in this state of mind, they are easily tempted – they are easily tripped up.

Proud people seldom realize that pride is their problem.

So, it’s time to take inventory. It’s time to let Ezekiel speak to us.

Are we proud of our “beauty” – our accomplishments, our success? Do we love splendor and money more than God? Have we sacrificed our wisdom in favor of wealth?

Listen to the warning – return to true worship. Avoid the long fall from grace.

“I will not endure conceit and pride. I will search for faithful people to be my companions.” (Psalm 101:5-6)

Oh Lord, count me among the faithful…count me among the humble.

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, November 14, 2010

AMOS - Shaken, But Not Stirred

“Will you pray for me?” my friend asked me the other day.

Fearing something terrible, I answered, “Of course I will, what’s wrong?

She went on to explain. There wasn’t any earth-shattering horror in her life. No deadly disease, no financial mishap, no terrible loss. There wasn’t any BIG thing in her life. It was just…well, her life.

She went on to explain how unsettled she was feeling, how unsteady and unsure. How previous goals seemed unclear, and earlier dreams felt unmet. How a straight and narrow path now felt crooked and directionless. How the clarity of purpose she had as a younger person, now felt blurry and indistinct. How she just didn’t know what she was feeling, what she was supposed to be doing, where she should be headed – how she felt unnerved, unsure, uncertain...

“Oh,” I said. “You mean you’re feeling life queasy.”

“What?” she replied. “Life queasy?”

“You know, that feeling you get on a boat out at sea. The pitching and rolling just has you off-kilter. A little uneasy and uncomfortable. You can’t quite get your bearings. Except you feel this way about your life. Life queasy.

She smiled. “Yeah, that’s exactly it.”

Do you ever feel this way?

Like a towel in a washing machine? All mixed up and disoriented?

It’s not a great feeling for anyone to feel, but especially for a Christian, I think. After all, we know the God of Wisdom and Purpose. We should have clear direction in our lives, we say to ourselves. We should have peace.

But we don’t – we feel distressed. We feel…shaken.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” comes from the book of Amos, a prophet who knew a thing or two about being shaken up!

Surely Amos was a faithful man, a person whose life was devoted to God. But he was a simple shepherd and fig grower. He wasn’t the son of a prophet – not the son of a priest.

However, God had a purpose for Amos – a purpose that probably made him feel life queasy.

God took Amos from his homeland in the southern kingdom of Judah, and sent him to denounce the social and religious corruption of the northern kingdom of Israel. Amos obeyed God.

And though his message brought pronouncements of God’s judgment on Israel, it also brought the promise of restoration. Today’s verses bring a word of tremendous reassurance:

“For I will give the command and will shake Israel along with the other nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, yet not one true kernel will be lost.” (Amos 9:9)

Though these words were directed toward the nation of Israel, I think we can apply them to our lives. Sometimes God needs to do some shaking up. Sometimes He needs to “unsettle” us.

But always remember – God wants to redeem, not punish. He wants to purify, not destroy.

He wants to make us holy.

So God will always care more about our character than our comfort.

What can we hold on to when we’re being shaken?

The promise: The faithful will not be forgotten. True believers will not be lost.

God shakes those He loves.

“You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver.” (Psalm 66:10)

“I will bring [them] through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold.” (Zechariah 13:9)

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, November 7, 2010

JOHN - Do You Believe...Really?

When I was a teenager, and into my 20’s, there was a spiritual re-awakening called the “Jesus Movement.”

It was a movement toward Christianity that began in the United States in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. (Yes, I know – I’m dating myself here…)

It began as an outgrowth of the hippie counterculture that was so popular at that time. Staunch, strict, staid Protestantism was invaded by those who adopted a looser, more inclusive Christianity. Members of the movement were called “Jesus people” or “Jesus freaks.”

“Jesus freak” was a derogatory term, used to dismiss these people in a negative way. It was often said in a sneering manner – “Oh…you’re a JESUS FREAK.”

The movement focused on universal love and pacifism. You know, the whole “peace, love, and Jesus” kind of mentality. “Jesus freaks” relished and focused on the radical nature of Jesus’ message. They often carried and distributed copies of the “Good News for Modern Man,” a 1966 translation of the Bible that only included the New Testament in its first editions. This translation brought the Word of God to a younger generation, speaking in their language – it was a new departure from the traditional, more formal King James Version.

Now, let me clarify. I’m not condemning this movement. Some aspects of the Jesus movement were based on good values. Many people were reached and converted to a genuine saving faith in Jesus Christ. However, for some, it was nothing more than the “thing to do” – and their “faith” fell by the wayside.

I was reminded of the “Jesus Movement” when I read today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” from John 2:23-25:

“Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.”

Does this sound harsh on Jesus’ part?

Why would He mistrust people who were putting their faith in Him?

The Amplified Bible adds a shade of meaning that I think clarifies things.

“…many believed in His name [identified themselves with His party]…”

It was this new “movement” that they were putting their belief in – not in Jesus’ “message" - not in Jesus HIMSELF.

At one point in time, my church’s high school group was overflowing with people. The most popular kids in town were there, the nerds were there...
(FYI – I was in the nerd crowd…) – everyone was there. It was the cool, socially correct thing to do.

Were there some genuine conversions? Absolutely.

Just as many of the people who followed Jesus genuinely believed in Him. But some had a superficial faith. They were there because it was the “thing to do.”

And Jesus knew, because He was discerning.

He knows the human heart.

Some of the same people proclaiming their belief in Him at this time would later yell, “Crucify Him!”

It’s easy to “believe” when it’s exciting and everyone else believes the same way. I think that’s exactly what happened with the “Jesus Movement.” It was a bandwagon that many jumped on. But when the ride got a little bumpy – when faith required right living, when faith required unpopular decisions, when faith required persecution and sufferingWHOA! Stop the bus – I’m getting off!

Jesus knew.

I wonder if He reflected on this passage – Jeremiah 17:9-10

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives.

Or maybe this one – 1 Samuel 16:7

“The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

I will not set myself up as the judge of another person’s heart. I will not presume to know the state or validity of their faith. NO WAY! I’m too busy attending to my own heart, my own faith journey. And even then, I’m not always to be trusted with self-judgment! I’m with Paul on this:

“It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.” (1 Corinthians 4:3)

But the question I leave you with is this.

Is your faith for real?

Will you keep your faith firm even when it ISN’T popular to follow Jesus?

Oh Lord, thank you for the assurance of salvation. Thank you for the gift of faith. Keep me from judging others. Keep me from judging myself – do not let me be deceived. Give me a right spirit, Lord. A spirit of truth and discernment. Let me seek You wholeheartedly and honestly. You alone know my heart. Convict me where I need correction. Convince me where I need assurance. Give me the desire and the power to follow You – with all of my heart, my soul, my strength, and my mind.

Yeah…I guess I am a “Jesus freak!”

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, October 31, 2010

HABAKKUK - God is Still On His Throne!

Today is October 31st – Halloween.

And Halloween reminds me of the word FEAR.

Have you ever just been terrified out of your mind?

Then I’m sure you have something in common with Habakkuk.

Habakkuk lived under the threat of the Babylonians. Babylon was becoming the dominant world power, and Judah would soon feel Babylon’s destructive force. The LORD had promised to use the Babylonians to punish Judah for their rebellion.

I’m sure Habakkuk was afraid.

He asked questions – difficult questions – and he diligently sought answers.

He asked God why He would use the wicked Babylonians to punish His people. He asked why the wicked in Judah were not being punished for their sins. He asked why a just God could allow such evil to exist.

He asked the questions we ask…

God responded to Habakkuk.

And Habakkuk praised God. He knew that God was going to discipline the people of Judah and that it wasn’t going to be pretty! But Habakkuk acknowledged God's Sovereign Control, yielded to His Divine Providence, accepted His Perfect Will, and asked for His Help and Mercy.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” comes from the very end of Habakkuk’s prayer to God.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign LORD is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.”

(Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Habakkuk affirmed that even in times of fear, he would still rejoice in the Lord. He didn’t let his feelings be controlled by the events around him. He trusted God’s ability to give him strength.

He let his "even though" turn into "yet I will..."

When nothing makes sense, and you’re AFRAID, remember God.

Look to Him, only Him –

He is alive and in control of the world. He is working, and He WILL accomplish His purposes.

So, run like surefooted deer, my friends – across rough and dangerous terrain.


“I have heard all about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by your amazing works.” (Habakkuk 3:2)

When in doubt, search God out!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

1 TIMOTHY - Clear Conscience

I remember summers when I was growing up –

Swimming, bodysurfing, reading, playing the radio, and…

…getting a tan!

Yup, not “politically correct” to say that, in these days of SPF 50 and skin cancer scares.

But, it’s true – I was a real “sun worshiper!”

That first day in the sun usually meant a sunburn – ouch! Bring out the Noxema cream or SeaBreeze – the only two things that seemed to take out the sting!

Did that keep me from going out in the sun the next day? NOPE!

And before I knew it, that sunburn didn’t hurt so much. As my skin got tougher, it didn’t notice the effects of the sun. I could sit in the sun for longer and longer periods of time – without the burn. I got USED to it.

Unfortunately, it can be the same way with our conscience.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” speaks to this:

“Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.” (1 Timothy 1:19)

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way a few times in my life, I’m sorry to say.

At first, doing something wrong really makes you feel bad. Guilt tears at your heart, and you feel remorse. Like that first day of sunburn. It hurts…

But, if you choose to IGNORE that feeling, (if you go out in the sun again, so to speak) – your conscience begins to harden. Just a little bit. And before you know it, your conscience doesn’t feel the sting of your sin as much. Then it doesn’t feel it at all.

Each time we deliberately ignore our conscience, we are hardening our hearts. Over time, we will lose our capacity to tell right from wrong. We will choose to do the sinful thing intentionally, and we will not feel bad…

But Paul reminds us of a terrible truth – if we do this, we will shipwreck our faith.

Paul knew something about shipwrecks. He experienced them more than once.

When I think of shipwrecks, I think of the Titanic. A huge, beautiful, unsinkable ship. And yet, a glancing blow off an iceberg sank it. Something that seemed small and inconsequential, started an inevitable chain of events that led to disaster.

There are no such things as “small” sins. The “little ones” are the dangerous ones. I am reminded of this phrase from Scripture – “the little foxes that ruin the vineyards.” We must be on guard – we must CLING to our faith like a life preserver – because IT IS a life preserver, in every sense of the word.

How can you keep your conscience clear?

Treasure your faith in Christ more than anything else. Do what is right.

As you walk with God, He will speak to you through your conscience. He will give you His wisdom – He will show you what is right and wrong.

Act on those inner tugs…

Stay out of the "sun" – and remain in the SON!!

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

1 JOHN - Our Advocate

The judge peered down at me.

“Do you have anything to say in your defense?”

What could I say? I was guilty of every sin that had been brought against me.

My Adversary was good…very good.

He had used witnesses against me…He had used Scripture against me. And he had used truth – I couldn’t deny one word of his accusations. I was guilty…

“No, Your Honor. The defense rests.”

“Then I suggest you begin your closing arguments.”

I had no closing arguments. How can you argue, when you know you’re guilty of every wrongdoing, every errant act, every thoughtless word – I had SINNED!

I was about to stand up and plead guilty, when a note was passed to me. It read: “Someone is here to speak for you.”

I turned and looked into the softest eyes of the strongest face I have ever seen.

And He began to speak for me.

He used His own witness…He used Scripture. And He used truth. He finished with a simple, yet profound, statement:

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

“Agreed,” said the judge, as he pounded his gavel. “Not guilty.”

I thought of this little courtroom drama when I read this week’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems.” It comes from the book of I John:

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

John offers reassurance to us when we’re feeling guilty and condemned. We know we have sinned. And Satan wastes no time in pointing fingers at us.

“For the accuser of our brothers and sisters…[is] the one who accuses them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10)

He is good…very good.

But don’t give up hope!!

We have the best defense attorney in the universe!

And He is pleading our case!

Jesus is our Advocate, our Defender – and He speaks His truth. He has already suffered the penalty in our place. We can’t be tried for a case that no longer exists.

“Who then will condemn us? No one – for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” (Romans 8:34)

“He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” (Hebrews 7:25)

So, don’t be afraid to ask Jesus to plead your case – He has already won it!!

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, October 10, 2010

1 CORINTHIANS - Do Not Judge

I wonder why “reality shows” have become so popular?

I’m sure there are many reasons – but I think, at least in part, it’s because we enjoy watching other people behave badly.

We humans love to compare ourselves with others. We love to feel like we’re “better” than someone else. Sometimes, I think we take a perverse pleasure in other people’s failures.

We measure our worth by the yardstick of someone else’s behavior – and we secretly applaud when they “come up short.”

We are a judgmental bunch…

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” serves as a warning – to be careful what we think of others.

“As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove that I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time – before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.”
(1 Corinthians 4:3-5)


Paul is speaking to the church at Corinth. He is urging them to think of him, Peter, and Apollos as mere servants of Christ. Paul understood one of the great “reversals” of the Kingdom of God – to be the greatest, you have to be the least.

“But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” (Matthew 19:30)

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

It is tempting to judge people, especially fellow Christians. Unfortunately, it’s rather easy to evaluate whether or not they are “good” followers of Christ. It’s what we do to make ourselves feel or look better. But that is arrogance, pride. Only God knows a person’s heart – including our own – and He is the only One with the right to judge.

Paul left the judging up to God. He compared himself only with Jesus. He realized his sinfulness, and he understood his limitations. He was grateful to be a servant of the Most High, and did not waste time comparing himself to the standards of man.

Jesus was his yardstick…

We must do what God tells us to do in the Bible and through the Holy Spirit.

He will judge our hearts, and He will reward His servants.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you…why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” (Luke 6:37, 41)

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, October 3, 2010

JEREMIAH - You Will Be Saved!

Ever get tired of watching the news?

The world is not a place of “good news” anymore, is it? It’s often a frightening place.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” sounds like it could have come “fresh off the presses” just in time for this morning’s Sunday edition:

“This is what the LORD says: ‘I hear cries of fear; there is terror and no peace…In all history there has never been such a time of terror. It will be a time of trouble for my people…Yet in the end they will be saved!’” (Jeremiah 30:5, 7)

Jeremiah was one of God’s great prophets.

Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet” because he was often moved to tears over the rebellion of God’s people.

He was called by God to speak to the southern kingdom of Judah. He faithfully confronted the nation’s leaders and the Israelite people with their sin. He prophesied both their 70-year captivity in Babylon, and their eventual return from exile.

His message doesn’t sound too different than what we hear today!

It is a time of fear and terror.

Economies are collapsing, weird illnesses and unusual diseases are appearing, people are starving, and nations are warring. In the post 9/11 world, “terror” has taken on a new meaning. It could be rightly said that “in all history there has never been such a time of terror.” (verse 7)

Where should we turn? To whom should we go?

Go to God…

He is our Leader.

God returned His chosen people to their land. He brought them out of exile, and graced them with His blessings. He never forgot them…

It is the same today as it was in Jeremiah’s time.

God knows the future, and His plans for us are good and full of hope. We need to trust Him with our agenda, and with the timetable of the world. We need to know that He goes with us as we move forward in this life. His purpose, His mission, WILL be accomplished.

We can have boundless hope.

“Yet in the end they will be saved!” (verse 7)

This does not mean that we will be spared pain, suffering, or hardship. But God will see us through to a glorious conclusion.

Just like He promised the Israelites – we will return to our “Promised Land” – to eternal life in God’s presence – we will finally return HOME.

“This is what the LORD says: ‘…then I will come and do for you ALL the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you…They are plans for good…to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:10-11)

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, September 26, 2010

HOSEA - God is Like a Tree

Years ago on a family vacation, as we were driving on the highway, we saw a sign:


One quick look at each other, one fast U-turn… and we were off into parts unknown.

It was a quaint country road – mostly dirt and gravel – bumpy, twisty – the four miles took about 40 minutes to navigate!

Around one more bend, and there was an adorable little farmhouse, nestled next to a fruit tree orchard!

The people were the nicest people ever…and the pie???

The MOST DELICIOUS I have ever tasted! YUM, YUM…

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” reminded me of that little orchard:

“[The LORD says] ‘I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.’ Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the LORD are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them.” (Hosea 14:8-9)

What a lovely picture!

God demonstrates His loving careHe listens to our prayers, and He answers them.

He is the source of our nourishment! He is a tree that never dies – His fruit is all we need!

I have this picture in my mind of myself sitting under a giant tree, relaxing in the shade - and then when I'm hungry, I just reach up and pick a piece of fruit to eat.

It's kinda like what I do with "Bible Pick 'Ems" -

God is the Tree, and His Word is the Fruit.

Each time I go to Scripture, there is something "good to eat." Something that nourishes my soul. Something that is pure, and good, and satisfying!

Hosea reminds us that we need to listen, learn, and benefit from God’s Word.

We need God’s wisdom – “Lord, help us to understand.”

We need discernment – “Lord, help us to listen carefully."

God’s paths are always true and right – "Lord, show us the
way to go.”

It is only by walking in God’s ways that we can live in His power and hear His voice.

Without God’s guidance we are lost –

He is the difference between life and death…

“Those who are wise will take all this to heart…” (Psalm 107:43)

“But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them.”
(Isaiah 26:7)

We must always remember that God cares for us continually – His love knows no bounds!

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

PROVERBS - Lord Willing!

When I opened my Bible yesterday to find the verse(s) for today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems,” I found myself right in the middle of the book of Proverbs.

A wealth of great verses – an overabundance of wise words.

So what did God want me to see?

What was HIS “pick?”

And then, slowly but surely, one verse began to stand out.

“You can make many plans, but the LORD’S purpose will prevail.
(Proverbs 19:21)

I venture to say that ALL of you have some form of a calendar – something that contains all the important appointments, meetings, reminders, dates, etc. - all those things that are an important part of life.

A calendar represents things we have done in the past, but ALSO some of our plans for the future.

This got me thinking about how we make plans.

We order our days.

But it is so important to remember that WE are not in control of our liveswe don’t even know the number of our days.

I’ll never forget my grandfather – my mom’s dad. Whenever he talked about future plans, he always added at the end, “Lord willing.”

“I’ll see you all next week when I come over for dinner, Lord willing.”

When I was younger, I thought he said it just out of habit, almost like a “good luck charm.” But as I grew older, and hopefully a little wiser, I came to see that he meant it from the bottom of his heart. He understood that he really wasn’t in control of his lifethat God indeed directed him by His Divine Providence and His Sovereign Will.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” is a good reminder of this indisputable fact –


There really is NOTHING random in this life. Luck has nothing to do with it – nor does some disembodied force called FATE or KARMA.

The Bible speaks directly against ANY random, chance view of human life. Rather, the Bible itself is a magnificent testament to the overseeing eye of a loving God, actively involved in humanity and events on earth.

The Bible is a literary “rainbow” – a story that starts in the Beginning, and spans over the entire course of history, to the very end of time.

Each of our steps is guided by God.

Nothing comes as a surprise to the Father. He has lived our calendar. And every twist and turn along the way serves a purpose in His overall plan.


Is it wrong to make plans? No, I think planning is important. Organization is a good thing – goals are necessary. I think a good guideline is this:

“Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year’…How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?...What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise, you are boasting about your own plans…”
(James 3:13-16)

We can plan ahead, but we must hold on to our plans loosely. We must put God’s desires at the center of our planning. He is in control. His purpose will prevail.

Live for God today!

I look forward to being with you again next Sunday for another “Bible Pick ‘Ems”…


"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

2 KINGS - Seek God, the Almighty!

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” comes from the book of 2 Kings 19.

A little background first.

Sennacherib has recently become the king of Assyria. He is the son of Sargon II, the king who had deported Israel’s people into captivity. To keep Assyria from attacking, the southern kingdom of Judah had been paying an annual tribute. But when Sennacherib became king, Hezekiah (the king of Judah) stopped paying this money. Sennacherib and his army retaliated, capturing all the fortified cities of Judah.

Finally, Sennacherib sent a message to Hezekiah, calling for his surrender, and taunting his God.

What did Hezekiah do?

He went to the Temple and prayed…

He sought the Lord’s help.

Though this story took place in history, a long time ago, I think there are some real nuggets of wisdom and encouragement that can apply to us today.

So, when we read this story, let’s pretend that Sennacherib is Satan, our “enemy” – taunting and menacing – and we are Hezekiah. Listen to some of the dialogue in that frame of mind:

“After Hezekiah received the letter…he went up to the LORD’S Temple and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed...’Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God…Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power…’” (2 Kings 19:14-16, 19)

Hezekiah had it right. He went immediately and boldly to the Lord. He presented his predicament, his petition – he “spread it out before the Lord.” He prayed.

A good example to follow.

And yet, I’m ashamed to admit, sometimes God is my “last resort.”

I read “the enemy’s” letter – and I don’t turn to the only One who can help me.

How often do I listen to Satan’s taunts, allowing myself to be intimidated by him, to be influenced by him – to let him defy God by trying to convince me that God is NOT listening, NOT in control, NOT good?

How often do I let him threaten me – “You know, God’s promises aren’t true. Look at all the struggles you’re having, the trial and hardships. God doesn’t care. You’re just a victim of circumstances, tossed around by fate, and I am going to conquer you.”

Lord, forgive me.

So, what happened in this confrontation between Sennacherib and Hezekiah?

Well, God HIMSELF replied to Sennacherib’s snide words (and I picture Him saying the same thing to Satan):

“Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look with such haughty eyes? It was the Holy One of Israel!...you have defied the LordBut I know you well – where you stay and when you come and go. I know the way you have raged against me. And because of your arrogance…I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth…” (2 Kings 19:22, 25, 27-28)

Sennacherib believed his kingdom and power had grown because of his own efforts and strength. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?!

But in reality, he succeeded only because of what God had allowed and caused.

God is the Supreme Ruler, the Sovereign One.

So, today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” brings us these lessons:

Immediately go to God with ALL your problems –
especially the scary ones.
Refuse to listen to “the enemy” –
don’t be intimidated, don’t be influenced.
Don’t believe Satan’s liesespecially about God.
God is in TOTAL control.
He listens to us, He cares, He is good…all the time.

Oh yeah…one more thing.


“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, September 5, 2010

ISAIAH - Be Alert!

Gloom and doom…

Sometimes the books of prophecy in the Old Testament can be difficult reading. It feels like they contain an endless litany of unheeded warnings, followed by devastating judgments.

And yet, there is always an unmistakable undercurrent of forgiveness, comfort, and hope.

God’s message is clear: There are consequences for rebelling against Me. Please don’t do it. But if you return to Me, I will forgive you and restore you.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” comes from the book of Isaiah.

I’d like to start with a little background information on the book of Isaiah.

Prophets stood with the priests as God’s special representatives. The prophet’s role was to speak for God, confronting the people with His commands and promises – pointing out their rebellion. Needless to say, true prophets were not very popular!!

But they continued to faithfully proclaim the truth.

The book of Isaiah is the first of the writings of the prophets in the Bible – and Isaiah is generally considered to be the greatest prophet. His purpose was to call the nation of Judah back to God. But his prophecies also tell of God’s salvation through His coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Our “pick ‘em” verses are found in Isaiah 21:5-7, 11-12:

“But quick! Grab your shields and prepare for battle. You are being attacked! Meanwhile, the Lord said to me, ‘Put a watchman on the city wall. Let him shout out what he sees…Let the watchman be fully alert.’
Someone…keeps calling to me, ‘Watchman, how much longer until morning? When will the night be over?’ The watchman replies, ‘Morning is coming…’”

These verses can be applied directly to the very real threat of Judah’s enemies during Isaiah’s lifetime. God was warning the people to return to Him, to remain alert and on guard, to prepare for battle. But, sadly, His warnings went unheeded.

But, these verses also apply to us today.

How so?

We also have enemies outside our “city walls.” They are ready to “attack” and we must “prepare for battle.” We are called to be “fully alert.”

We, too, must be watchmen…

Because we have a blessed “MORNING” that is coming!

Our glorious Savior is going to return!

“So you, too must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming…You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” (Matthew 24:42-44)

“You must be ready all the time…” (Luke 12:40)

“For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly; like a thief in the night…So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and clearheaded.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 6)

Not all people will join us in our watch.

We will hear people saying, “How much longer until morning?”

Some may say it with longing, others will mock.

“Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last day scoffers will come…They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again?’”
(2 Peter 3:3, 4)

Do not listen.

God is calling us to be watchmen.
To grab our shields and prepare for battle.
To shout the truth.
To be fully alert.

And most of all, to keep looking to the horizon, and believing with all our hearts -


“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, August 29, 2010

NUMBERS - A Bit of Foreshadowing

Don’t you love the part in a book or a movie when something happens and you just know it’s pointing to something else that’s going to happen in the future?

That’s called “foreshadowing.”

Foreshadowing is used in written art and film to give hints about things to come in later plot developments. It can be very broad and easily understood, or it may be complex use of symbols, that are then connected to later turns in the plot.” (From wisegeek.com)

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” is an example of Biblical foreshadowing.

It is about one year after the Israelites had departed from Egypt. They are camped out near Mount Sinai. Here they have received all the laws and regulations recorded in the book of Leviticus, and they are ready to go possess the Promised Land.

Now the LORD gives them specific directions for their lifestyle in the new land. His instructions are very precise, very detailed, as He begins to form the nation of His chosen people.

In Numbers, Chapter 3, God lays out His instructions for the Levites, the Israelites appointed for service in the Tabernacle and to minister to all the people.

And here’s the “foreshadowing” –

“And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me, for all the firstborn males are mine.”
(Numbers 3:11-12)

YES, we know what’s coming, don’t we?!

We have the advantage of living on “this side” of Christ. We can see what God had planned all along. We know that many of His instructions to the Israelites were “foreshadowing” the Master Plan of Christ’s death on the cross.

There is quite a difference between the priesthood in the Old Testament, and the priesthood of Christ in the New Testament. However, the whole idea of “substitution” was a recurring theme in the old covenant.

God completed and fulfilled the “sacrificial system” when He sent His Son, Jesus, to die “in our place.” He became the ultimate substitute for us – our “once and for all” sacrifice. He is our High Priest, our intermediary with God – the One who died in our place.

Now all believers can come into God’s presence without fear.

Some may think that portions of the Old Testament are boring or dry. But make it a point to look for all the “foreshadowing” that’s there.

Everything points to Jesusbefore He appeared on earth, while He was here...

...and to His future return to claim His Lordship over all!

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

2 KINGS - My Word Will Not Fail!

You know, sometimes reading the Bible is like watching a good “soap opera” – (I know…good soap opera…oxymoron).

But the Bible isn’t a “tame” read!

It is chock-full of scoundrels, liars, idol worshipers, cheats, adulterers, murderers – in short, it’s full of REAL people!

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” comes from the book of 2 Kings.

WOW! Talk about kingdom intrigue!

The book of 2 Kings reads like a captivating novel, as king upon king, one after the other, enters and leaves the scene. Some good, some evil – all interesting.

At first I wasn’t sure how I was going to grab a “meaningful” verse out of what I was reading. But then it hit me. Listen to these verses from 2 Kings 10:10:

[King Jehu speaking] “You can be sure that the message of the LORD that was spoken concerning Ahab’s family will not fail. The LORD declared through his servant Elijah that this would happen.”

God’s prophecy CAME TRUE!

This verse, written about events that took place SO VERY LONG AGO, has a message for us TODAY!

God’s Word endures forever!

His Word and His promises can be trusted!

All that He says will happen!

He is faithful. He never changes. And all things will work out, just as He declared, just as He planned, just as He promised!

The message of the Lord WILL NOT FAIL!

“Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true…Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me…I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:6, 12-13)

“When in doubt, search God out!”

Saturday, August 14, 2010

1 KINGS - There is No God Like You!

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” comes from the book of 1 Kings.

The verses are taken from the beginning of King Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the newly-built Temple in Jerusalem. After hundreds of years, a permanent home for the presence of God was finally completed! It was a joyous time of celebration.

Solomon’s Temple was a glittering spectacle, displaying the riches of a prospering nation. As a dwelling place for God, it was fitting for the Temple to be beautiful.

In the final climactic moment, when all the building was complete, the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Most Holy Place, and “…the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple.” (1 Kings 8:11)

Then Solomon gathered the people of Israel together to dedicate the Temple – but he also wanted them to rededicate themselves to God’s service.

“Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the entire community of Israel. He lifted his hands toward heaven, and he prayed.
‘O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion…
(and to the people of Israel)…And may you be completely faithful to the LORD our God. May you always obey his decrees and commands, just as you are doing today.’”
(1 Kings 8:22-23, 61)

Solomon declared that even the highest heavens, the far reaches of the universe, could not contain God. His majesty shines brighter than any light in the sky, and His riches far surpass any man-made structure.

Isn’t it amazing that God is willing to live in the hearts of those who believe in Him and love Him?!

So where is God's presence?
He's here, in my heart,
Directing my pathways
As He has from the start.
Where is God's presence?
He's here! Don't you see?
The Most High of the Universe
Dwells within me.

© Sharon Kirby, October 4, 2000

Let us walk in wholehearted devotion to Him – obeying Him always, just as we are doing today…

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, August 8, 2010

JOHN - Light of the World!

Have any of you ever been afraid of the dark?

When I was a little girl, I was terrified of the dark.

I was sure that there was someone, or worse yet, something under my bed. I remember jumping into bed, launching myself from about two feet out, just so whatever was under there couldn't grab my legs!!

In thinking about darkness, I started wondering WHY it's so scary to so many people...

I think a lot of people have overactive imaginations (that would be me!) Our minds get filled up with stories and images, and we convince ourselves that we see and hear and fear "things that go bump in the night."

But I also think there's something inside us that has an innate fear of the dark...

I think there's a spiritual fear, something that we feel in our souls.

Darkness somehow represents everything that is not of God. And Satan, our enemy, the great accuser, is prince of the "kingdom of darkness." However, all hope is NOT LOST!!

The cross of Jesus, His crucifixion and His resurrection, were His way of saying a resounding "NO!" to the darkness.

He is the source of light!

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" comes from the book of John:

"[Jesus] said, 'I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.' " (John 8:12)

Jesus is the source of light.

And if you believe in Jesus - that He died on the cross for your sins - and if you confess your sins, and ask Him to come into your heart as Lord of your life...then you no longer have to be afraid of this other darkness - the spiritual darkness of the soul.

You have been set free!

And as a child of God, you never need to fear darkness again, even the darkness of death, for there will be NO ETERNAL DARKNESS for the believer!!

PRAISE GOD! We will live in His light FOREVER!

Check out these wonderful passages - all about light:
  • Genesis 1:3-4
  • Psalm 18:28
  • Psalm 27:12
  • Psalm 119:105
  • John 1:4-5
  • John 12:46
  • 2 Corinthians 4:6-7
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:5
  • Ephesians 5:8-9
  • 1 Peter 2:9
  • 1 John 1:5, 7


"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, August 1, 2010

PSALMS - Praise the Lord!

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" is so wonderful, I think I'll let it speak for itself!

(From Psalm 148, 149, and 150)

"Praise the LORD from the heavens! Praise him from the skies! Praise him, all his angels! Praise him, all the armies of heaven! Praise him, sun and moon! Praise him, all you twinkling stars! Praise him, skies above!

Let every created thing give praise to the LORD, for he issued his command, and they came into being. He set them into place forever and ever...

Praise the LORD from the earth, you creatures of the ocean depths, fire and hail, snow and clouds, wind and weather that obey him, mountains and hills...[animals and birds], kings of the earth and all people, rulers and judges of the earth, young men and young women, old men and children.

Let them all praise the name of the LORD.

For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven!

He has made his people strong, honoring his faithful ones - the people...who are close to him.

Sing to the LORD a new song.

For the LORD delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them. Let them sing for joy...Let the praises of God be in their mouths...

Praise the LORD! ...praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! ...


Praise the LORD!"

Oh Lord, I can hardly contain myself when I think of how glorious You are! I am overwhelmed by Your majesty - humbled by the greatness of Your presence! And to know that You LOVE me...this is a wonder too wonderful to comprehend! Thank You, Lord, for Your gracious mercies, your faithfulness that is new EACH morning!

I LOVE YOU, LORD - forever!!

"When in doubt, search God out!"