Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Joy!!

It is really a shame that instead of great joy at Christmas time we often observe anything but true joy. People are angry because they could not purchase the newest fad of the year, or people are complaining because they did not like what they received. There are families who are sad because of broken homes. Some homes have all the family members together, but all you hear is the grumbling and fighting because they do not know how to get along. Truth be told though, all too often the Joy of Jesus is left out of Christmas. We MUST keep our focus on the true meaning of Christmas and find great joy to praise our Lord who was willing to leave heavens glory and come to this earth to provide salvation to all those who will accept Him.

Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, God has been progressively revealing that a Messiah would come to deliver His people. Hebrews eleven lists numerous people who walked by faith trusting in God’s promises such as a deliverance from their enemies, a “promised Land”, and a Messiah who could provide it all. Then in v.13 we are told that “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” They never saw the promises fulfilled, but knew they would be. The believing remnant of Israel were waiting for the coming of their Messiah. This was the state of things right before Jesus’ birth.

Now think with me about the great joy experienced by some of the characters that we read about in the Christmas narrative. After the angel visited Zacharias in the temple and informed him that he would have a son who would be the forerunner of the Messiah, he broke out in a song (Luke 1:67-80) of exuberant praise. Listen to Luke 1:68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,” Mary also broke out in praise when informed that as a virgin she would have a child who would end up being the long awaited for Messiah. Note Mary’s response; Luke 1:46-47 “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”

The shepherds in the fields were surely not silent about the news of the arrival of their Savior. After visiting the baby Jesus, they departed “… glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” (Luke 2:20) Why not, the long awaited Messiah had come and they saw their redemption. And of course, we cannot forget about Simeon and Anna. Simeon was promised that he would not die until he saw the “Lord’s Christ.” He was in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to present Him unto the Lord as the 1st born. Observe Simeons response; Luke 2:28-30 “Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,” Then Anna walked in and saw Jesus and like the others we observed she could not remain unresponsive. Luke 2:38 “And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”

Let there be great joy seen in all of us who have accepted Christ as our personal savior this Christmas season. Praise God above for providing sinful man with the great light of the gospel. John 1:4 “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” There really is no reason for gloom and discouragement in God’s children. REJOICE the Savior has come!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Are You A Thankful Person?

I fear that all too often we fail to be a thankful people. We are very good at complaining, but not so good at thanking God for His many blessings. What kind of person would you rather be around a complainer or a person who is truly thankful and not afraid to express his feelings? God is truly glorified when we continually give Him thanks. Imagine the kind of testimony you could be for Christ.

I love Psalm 100. What a challenge for us today! The Psalmist challenges us to praise our great God because: He created us v.3, He is our shepherd v.3, we can come into His presence vv.1, 4, and finally v.5 ends with the assurance of God's favor, mercy, and dependability towards us. Now, let us not forget our standing before God- simply sinners with nothing to offer Him in and of our selves. (Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;") But let us also remember that in Christ, we come before God in Christ’s righteousness. (2 Corinthians 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.") Therefore we can now “…come boldly unto the throne of grace…” Hebrews 4:16.

Because of our access to the Father, we enjoy many spiritual benefits. Just read and meditate on Ephesians 1:3ff. Our Father has done so much for us all the while we were completely undeserving of His grace. How dare we go around complaining, grumbling, whining, and so forth. We need to cultivate lives of thanksgiving. Let us follow the Psalmist’s challenge in Psalm 100: to make a joyful noise v.1, to serve the Lord with gladness v.2, to sing praises in God’s presence v.2, to enter into His presence with thanksgiving v.4, and to bless His name v.4. Think on some of these words. “Gladness” in v.2 has the idea of glee or pleasure. It ought to be pleasurable to serve the Lord! “Singing” also in v.2 has the idea of a triumphant shout or glad exhortation. The root word for “thanksgiving” in v.4 means confession. It can be a confession of sin, or a confession of God’s character and works. In Psalm 100 we are challenged to adore Him, give Him thanks, and confess His greatness for who He is and what He does.

We have a lot to be thankful for. We have many reasons to praise God’s holy name. When we praise and thank Him for all that He has done for us we truly glorify him. Not only that, but we also become a testimony to the unbelievers around us. Thank God publically. Let people know you serve an awesome God. Praise His name before your co-workers, at the store, wherever you may be, and whatever situation you might find yourself in. Hebrews 13:15 "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Christ, Our Ever Present Help!!

I thought this might cheer up some people who may be going through some trials. It was an encouragement to me today to read these words penned by Charles Spurgeon. He reminds us who are Christians to keep our focus on the only one who can see us through life’s difficulties.

The waves may roll over them, but their souls soon rise to the surface and see the light of God's countenance; they have a buoyancy about them which keeps their head always above the water, and helps them to sing amid the tempest, "God is with me still." To whom shall the glory be given? Oh! to Jesus—it is all by Jesus. Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer, but the presence of the Son of God in the fiery furnace with him fills his heart with joy. He is sick and suffering, but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him. He is dying, and the cold chilly waters of Jordan are gathering about him up to the neck, but Jesus puts His arms around him, and cries, "Fear not, beloved; to die is to be blessed; the waters of death have their fountain-head in heaven; they are not bitter, they are sweet as nectar, for they flow from the throne of God." As the departing saint wades through the stream, and the billows gather around him, and heart and flesh fail him, the same voice sounds in his ears, "Fear not; I am with thee; be not dismayed; I am thy God." (This is a section taken from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotions)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Are We Evangelistic?

Evangelism needs to be an important part of our Christian lives. It is God’s desire that men and women would accept His free offer of salvation. 2 Peter 3:9 states god’s desire; “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Then in Romans 10: 17 Paul tells us that faith comes by hearing God’s word. It is necessary for believers to share God’s word with the unsaved so that they can clearly hear the plan of salvation. God so loved the world that He sent his Son to die on the cross to make salvation possible for anyone who will believe (John 3:16).

Believers need to follow Jesus’ example in loving those who need salvation. In Jesus’ Galilean ministry in Matthew 9 Jesus traveled through the different cities and villages teaching and preaching the gospel message of the kingdom, then in verse 36 we are told that Jesus “was moved with compassion” because they were like sheep with no shepherd. Then in John 4 we again see the love of Jesus as He talked with the woman at the well. She was so grateful to Jesus that she shared the good news with her fellow Samaritans. As a result of her message, the men of the city sought after Jesus. As they were coming to Jesus, He replied to His disciples in verse 35 that the fields “are white already to harvest.” It seems logical to believe that Jesus was pointing to the men coming to Him through the fields and explaining to His disciples that there are many people who need to hear the truth about Him. By implication, Jesus expected His disciples to share the truth with the multitudes. Likewise, every Believer should share Christ’s concern for the unsaved by proclaiming the gospel to them so that they too can experience God’s saving grace.

Peter explains in 1Peter 3:15 that believers should always be ready to share their hope in Christ with anyone who asks. God provided believers with an incredible salvation and hope through accepting Christ as their savior. We should be extremely grateful for God’s grace and share that grace and hope to those who need it most. After all, God expects His children to share the gospel with others. In 1 Peter 2:9 Peter explains that we are God’s special people as believers and because of this fact we “should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” The idea behind the Greek word “to shew forth” is to “proclaim.” Believers are to proclaim the Excellencies of God. Our excellent God saw fit to provide salvation and we need to proclaim to others how our marvelous God saved us and will save them too, if they will believe on His Son.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


After the death of Aaron at mount Hor, the children of Israel started on their journey around the land of Edom. V.4 explains that the people were discouraged over taking the long way around Edom. Once again, the people were complaining about Moses’ leadership and the lack of food and water in the wilderness. Ultimately though, the people were complaining against God and His provision and protection. They were upset with Moses for taking them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness. They quickly forgot about God’s miraculous protection. They also despised God’s provision of manna by calling it “worthless” or “miserable” bread (v.5).

Complaining against God was a very serious matter that resulted in God sending poisonous serpents as a judgment against the people (v.6). The serpents bit the people injecting them with lethal poison that killed many and caused discomfort to the rest. For the first time in the wilderness journey the people of Israel actually seemed to genuinely repent of their sin and called upon Moses to intercede for them by asking God to take away the serpents.

God answered Moses by commanding him to craft a bronze serpent to be fastened upon a pole. Anyone who was bitten by the serpents was to look upon the bronze serpent to live. In other words, if the people wanted to survive the snake bites, they had to look in faith to the bronze serpent trusting God to deliver them from the poison. It is interesting to note that God did not immediately take away the serpents even though he made provision for the people to survive the venom. The people had to suffer the consequences of their sin until God decided to take away the serpents. God forgives sin, but that does not mean that He will spare the consequences.

Israel’s deliverance was not through the bronze serpent, but through God’s provision and grace. The bronze serpent became God’s means of deliverance. For some of the people, the serpent would remind them of Satan’s deception in the Garden of Eden (Gen.3). Throughout all of time, snakes have never been in great favor with most of mankind. Ronald Allen notes that the Lord transformed a detestable image of death into a source of life and deliverance. The people were forced to look upon the very thing that represented what was killing them and by an act of faith had to trust in God who controlled life and death.

In John 3 we find the account of Jesus sharing with Nicodemus his need for salvation. In v.14 Jesus references the Numbers account of the bronze serpent. Jesus explains that the “Son of man” must be “lifted up” just as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness for the people to survive the snake bites. What does Jesus mean by this? In order to provide salvation for mankind, Jesus had to be “lifted up” and die on a cross for the sins of mankind. 2 Corinthians 5:21 explains that Jesus became sin for man and paid the penalty for the sins of the one who will believe and accept God’s free salvation. Just like in the Numbers passage, the “curse” became the basis for deliverance.

Based upon the analogy in Numbers 21, Jesus was telling Nicodemus in John 3:14 that he, along with all of mankind, had to look in faith to Jesus to receive spiritual life just as the Israelites had to look upon the bronze serpent for physical life. There was nothing Nicodemus or any man could do to earn his own salvation. Salvation can only come through the Lord Jesus Christ. Physical deliverance in the Numbers passage and the offered salvation in the John 3 passage both were provisions made by God out of His abundant grace. (Romans 10:13) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.