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!”