Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Zephaniah has some beautiful words about the Lord. He reminds God’s people of his love for them. Have you ever felt down or discouraged? Have people made you feel like your sense of worth is very low? Maybe at times in your life you have not felt loved by anyone? Life may not be what you want or wish, but please know God has never left you and he loves you.
“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.”
God is with you. His is mighty to save. Like a proud and loving Father he rejoices over you with gladness. When was the last time you felt someone rejoice completely over you? His love can quiet the restless questions that keep us awake at night. His love for us shows us that he will always be with us. God will exult over you with singing. Our Heavenly Father sings over us for our comfort and his pleasure. God delights in you his child.
He will deal with things in his time, take care of the oppressors. He will gather the lame and outcasts. God flips the script changing the shame put on us by others, to praise from our loving Heavenly Father, the God of all creation. Never forget his love and delight for you.
Monday, December 18, 2017
The story of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin is the most tragic story I know. This one event shaped the direction of human history and humanity’s relationship with God. Why share this story during Advent? Ever since the sin of mankind there has been a separation between the holiness of God and the sin of humanity. In our humanity there is still a longing and desire for a great and wonderful, personal relationship much like when God would walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening in the garden.
Romans tells us, the wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The curse of sin is passed down to each person who came after Adam and Eve. God sent his Son, holy and perfect, to redeem all who believe in him. He paid the wages of sin, death. Giving life, hope, and peace. Through the baby born in Bethlehem the condition of humanity was conquered in the cross of Christ.
Why this story of the fall? Without understanding our lost condition before God can we fully understand how great the sacrifice and salvation of God through his Son. When we don’t acknowledge our sin, it is easy to take grace for granted. Some may then be tempted to believe God owes it to us, making grace an entitlement instead of an amazing act of love for us. Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see.
Sunday, December 17, 2017
2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
It has not been long since we celebrated Thanksgiving. Some are thankful for the things they have like family or health. While none of those things are bad, the scripture here suggests that we give thanks to God for our brothers and sisters in faith, our church family. I am grateful to God for our church family. I am grateful that God chose us to travel the journey together. I am thankful that in each of you, my brothers, and sisters, I see the glory of God found in each of you. It is a beautiful and diverse picture of the greatness and love of God. I am thankful.
The continuing prayer for the people of God is found in verses 16-17. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”
The prayer is that our Heavenly Father would produce in us comfort and hope because of his grace. These become part of our hearts in Christ Jesus. They become part of our being as individuals and our being together as the body of Christ. It is out of this being that flows our doing, “and may establish them in every good work and word.” They will know we are Christians by our love.
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Haggai in chapter one reminded the people to delight in restoring the house of the Lord, not because God needs a place, but because He chose this people. The Lord, not necessarily the building, should be the center of life for the believer.
The words now are of encouragement. Be strong, finish the task. Seeing the former glory of the house of God in ruins, and God says the glory of the newer will be greater. God’s encouragement to the people is to continue to work, because God is with them and will work with them. He reminds them of the covenant they have with God. The covenant, the Lord says “I” made with you. God is always faithful to his word and promises. His Spirit remains with them in their midst. He is present, so don’t go about life as if God doesn’t exist.
God tells the people, he is there and will not leave and tells them not to fear. The Lord reminds them that, all creation is his and he will bring glory to his name in all the earth. The last promise made may be the best one yet, “and in this place, I will give peace.” Peace comes from God and is enacted through us.
Be encouraged, God has not forgotten us. God is at work in the world and inviting us to participate. God will not leave or abandon us. God will bring peace to our lives.
Friday, December 15, 2017
Haggai 1:4-6, 14
The words God spoke through Haggai are a reminder of the difference between what we give or commit to God and what we think we can keep or preserve for ourselves. The people of Israel who had been in exile in Babylon were allowed to return to their homeland by the king. He let them return to their homeland to rebuild their temple.
When they go the place of worship was in ruins and they sought to rebuild it. However, when they got there the people were more concerned with re-establishing their lives and homes in the land while God’s house lies in ruins. They were allowed to come back because of God’s working through a foreign king. The challenge was to consider their ways. “Sown much, harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them in bags with holes.”
We can all labor hard, but it can never match the provisions God can give. What we do for God is the lasting. He is the giver of all good things. We can never out give God. Can we give our best to honor him?
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Jesus finds himself in the position of confronting the religious establishment. Usually those in the establishment are quick to judge by standards that God cares nothing about and at the exclusion of those who do not follow their rules. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
Jesus’ criticisms are about how the Scribes and Pharisees will focus on the smallest detail of the law to accuse someone while missing the larger, broader issues of the Law. They tithe because it is clearly easy for people to see they are doing it. Matters, such as, justice, mercy, and faithfulness, those should be done without neglecting the others. They can’t claim to be law-abiding.
They seem over-concerned with the outward appearance and cleansing rituals. While they are unclean from the inside out. The outward work to maintain an appearance is like putting an air freshener next to a trash can without taking the trash out. It only masks the greater problem. If you are clean on the inside you will be clean on the outside.
Have you ever worked hard a putting on an appearance only to leave you feeling empty and not yourself? Trust Christ to help you from the inside out. When we do, we are truly his and we then become more like him. No Pretending.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
“As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.”
Our faith is personal, but has a relational context. We are to live out our personal faith in relational ways. No one else can believe for you, and just going to church or your aunt going to church will not save you. We don’t have faith by proxy or place but through personal relationship. It was so personal that God sent his Son in personal human flesh, to die for our personal sins, with whom we have a personal relationship. It is very personal to God.
A few years ago, there was a Contemporary Christian song called “Salvation has a Name.” Indeed, the name Jesus means, “he will save.” How personally do we take God? God wanted us to know him so personally, that be sent his Son in the flesh to be here with us. His other name Immanuel means, “God with us.”
The Psalmist can only speak for himself, “as for me.” “I shall behold your face in righteousness.” Seeing someone face to face is personal and no one can do it for you. When we see him face to face we will be satisfied. Faith at a safe distance does not require much faith. Our personal savior wants to have a personal relationship with each of us.