Sunday, December 20, 2015
Background: Luke 1:26-38
Focal: Luke 1:28-33
Have you ever been startled by someone? Perhaps you didn’t know they were there or they spoke to you and you did not know who they were. Mary is greeted by an angel of the Lord and called favored and she is not sure about what kind of greeting this might be. She was startled, but she was reassured, “don’t be afraid you have found favor with God.”
In finding favor with God Mary is told that God wanted to uniquely bless her to be a part of his work in the world. Most might think that is great but what if he wants you to do something radical and the world may not understand. Mary is told she would give birth to the one who would save the people from their sins, but she would remain a virgin. Would people believe God’s mighty work through her?
I would like to think I would say yes to whatever God would like to do in and through my life, but honestly I would like to know what it is first. If what God wants to do me be extreme and awesome, but people may not believe me or understand God’s purposes I may be tempted to say, “Lord do you have something a little easier for me.”
It is difficult sometimes to receive a blessing that we don’t understand or ask for. We are tempted to shy away from those difficult blessings. Thankfully, Mary chose to do the will of the Lord in spite of what others might think about her. Do we request blessings we want or accept what God provides?
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Background: Zephaniah 3:14-20
Focal: Zephaniah 3:17
Life can be tough. When difficulty hits it seems that the hours roll into days and into weeks or months. During the heartbreak and struggle of life there will be some who doubt God’s nearness to us because their circumstances are not what they want. God is present with us in the all the seasons and difficult circumstances of life. Whether you are a believer or not life will still happen and tough days will still come. What is different for the believer is that we believe that God is there with us loving and helping us through those difficult days.
Zephaniah reminds us, “the Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
What a word of encouragement in tough times. God is in our midst, in our lives. God is mighty and can and will save. His love is beyond compare and rejoices over us in gladness. He is able, he does save, and he loves us. The love of God can sustain us in any circumstance of life.
When we cry, struggle, and are tempted to lose hope he embraces and quiets us by his love. Have you been quieted by the love of God? He sings over us because of his great love for us. You are not alone, the Lord your God is in your midst.
Friday, December 18, 2015
Background: John 3:16-21
Focal: John 3: 18-19
Familiarity with a verse of scripture or a favorite hymn can help us to recite or sing them often without the full thought of the implications of those verses. Most know John 3:16-17 and are familiar with it, but these verses are meant to be looked at with the verses around it.
John 3:18 tells us that whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever doesn’t believe is condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. It is a more pleasant thought to think choosing Jesus makes us better but I am a good person without him. Scripture does not indicate that we start at neutral but we start as condemned, guilty, and separated from God.
The judgement is that the light of God has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light. John’s gospel goes on to say that loving darkness keeps us from coming to the light because we do not want our deeds of darkness exposed.
God loves us. Do we love him or the darkness? We must let loose of the darkness and our love for it to embrace the light. Do we love the light of the world come to us that we might believe and have life?
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Background: Zechariah 4:1-14
Focal: Zechariah 4:6
Then then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.
It seems to be part of the human condition to think that we are self-sufficient. We think we can do and accomplish so many things. We try time and again to get along in the world by our own power and might, trying to do what can only be done by God.
In life we believe that we can manage, get by, and even conquer all that life has to offer. In reality when we carry that to the extreme we are proclaiming that we are enough and we don’t need God. After all, we are tough and can do so many things. We run the risk of believing the lie that we can make it without God.
All it takes is a crisis or tragedy to set us back and then we start realizing how fragile we are. Life is not about what we can accomplish but what God can accomplish through us. It is humbling to realize that we can’t accomplish much in our power or might.
How much more should we be encouraged and allow the power of God to work in us and through us for his will and purposes? How much could be accomplished for his kingdom? Trust the Spirit of God and live by its power.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Background: Revelation 3:14-22
Focal: Revelation 3:15-16, 20
For many of us we prefer a comfortable life. We do not like very warm days when the heat climbs into the 100s and just as many do not care for the days when the temperatures dip way below freezing. We want to be comfortable. We have heaters and air conditioning in our homes and vehicles. It is an attempt to have comfort in life. I too shy away from the extremes in life and prefer to live comfortably and safely.
Jesus says he would prefer that we are hot or cold. If we are hot (on fire) for Jesus we are of a benefit to him as we proclaim and live out his will in our lives. IF we are cold, we may more easily recognize our need to repent and turn ourselves back to Christ. We recognize we are not where we need to be. Being warm is about comparison and relativity. We say things like “I’m okay” or “I’m a good person” and we are always better than a cold person but are not one hundred percent given to Christ. The good is the enemy of the great and acknowledges we want to change God’s standard.
Christ knocks and calls out to us, thank God. If anyone hears Christ’s voice and responds (opens the door), Christ will come into their hearts and dine with them creating a relationship, and fellowship with our Lord who lives, moves, and breathes in and through our lives.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Background: Zechariah 2:1-13
Focal: Zechariah 2:13
We live in a world of noise. This could be for many reasons. I believe part of the noise of life is an attempt to try to make ourselves seem significant or to hope we are not alone. Silence almost seems frightening and many resist it. In silence we learn to be and become. In silence we see ourselves as we are and not who we project ourselves to be.
Think about our music, phones, conversations, television, distractions, computers, and even background noises. I am used to sleeping with the fan on and recently in a hotel I could not sleep very well because of all things it was too quiet. Many times we do not want things to be too quiet. If it is too quiet we may then be able to hear the most significant voice, the voice of God.
In seeing and hearing God we become unable to find anything of greater value to talk about. We are all silent before the holiness of the Lord. When we are silent we’re truly who we are in our deepest places, and not who we project to be. We find ourselves nourished in his presence. We find ourselves in a place too holy for words and the voice and presence of God reminds us of who we are and who we were created to be…His!
Monday, December 14, 2015
Background: Revelation 3:7-13
Focal: Revelations 3:8, 10-12
Revelation is such a reassurance for the believer. Christ declares to the believers at Philadelphia he knows their works, and has set before them an open door, which no one can shut. Christ has opened and done what only he could do and has declared that no one can close what he has opened. We may not have much power but we can control if we keep his word and do not deny his name. The door is opened because of Jesus.
Keeping his word concerning patient endurance, he will keep those from the trial or judgement that will come to those who do not know him. He says the time is soon, don’t abandon your faith he is coming for us. “Christ died for us, loves us, is coming to claim us, and make sure we will be permanently where he is.
Jesus shares that we will have the name of God upon us, name of the city of God, the New Jerusalem, and Jesus’ own new name. Hold fast dear saint he is returning and will open the door to you that will place you where he is forever. He makes all things new placing on us the name we have claimed so long and have made us his own. Thank God that Christ holds us in this life and forevermore.