Sunday, July 20, 2014

God with us

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”  —Matthew 1:23

The Lord Jesus Christ came to bring the presence of God into our world.

Immanuel . . . God with us.

We too are to bring His presence into our world. 

The Lord Jesus Christ made that clear when He said, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).

We can give the gift of God’s likeness through us. 

When our lives reflect the God who lives in us, we can be different from the world, and that difference can bless others with the transforming presence of His love and grace. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What A Friend We Have in Jesus

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 
—John 15:14-15

All of us battle with seasons of loneliness, wondering if anyone knows, understands, or cares about the burdens we carry or the struggles we face. 

But followers of Christ have an assurance that brings comfort to our weary hearts. 

The comforting presence of the Savior is promised in words that are undeniable, for the psalmist David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4).

Whether isolated by our own choices, by the cultural trends that surround us, or by the painful losses of life, all who know Christ can rest in the presence of the Shepherd of our hearts. 

What a friend we have in Jesus! 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sowing Discord

These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 
A proud look,
A lying tongue, 
Hands that shed innocent blood, 
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil, 
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren
—Proverbs 6:16-19

The language of Proverbs 6:16-19 is strong. 

In the citing of seven things the Lord hates, sowing discord among brethren makes the list. 

Naming this sin is important.

This sin spoils the unity that Christ desires for His followers (John 17:21-22).

Those who sow discord may not initially set out to create divisions. 

They may be preoccupied instead with their personal needs or the interests of a group they belong to (James 4:1-10). 

Lot’s herdsmen argued with those of Abraham (Gen. 13:1-18).

Christ’s disciples argued about personal preeminence (Luke 9:46).

Divisive groups in the church at Corinth elevated party factions above the unity of the Spirit (1 Cor. 3:1-7).

So what is the best way to promote unity? 

It begins with the transformation of the heart. 

When we adopt the mind of Christ, we develop an attitude of humility and we focus on service toward others (Phil. 2:5-11). 

Only in Him can we access the power to look out not only for our own interests, but also for the interests of others. 

Soon the needs and hopes of others become more important to us than our own.

With growing bonds of love among us, we find discord replaced with joy and unity.

We can accomplish more together than we can alone.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's a Cloudy Day

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” —Job 42:5-6

We often wish for blue skies instead of storm clouds. 

But cloudy skies may reveal God’s faithfulness. 

We gain perspective on how God has been faithful in our trials as we look back on the clouds.

In Job 3:3-5, after a time of quiet agony, Job broke his silence and let out his anguish. 

He called for darkness and then destruction to overwhelm him. 

Instead of seeing God’s light-filled and good creation, Job felt he was living in a world of darkness. 

But in Job 42:5-6, we see the resolution to Job’s conflict. 

Out of the whirlwind, God challenged Job and pointed to creation as a witness to His reality. 

Although Job was never told that his sufferings were the result of spiritual warfare from the devil, Job submitted to the sovereignty of God and experienced restoration.

Job's experience of despair continued for a long time until God spoke. Then he encountered the sovereign Creator, and that changed his perspective on God’s purposes.

Clouds of trouble may fill our skies for a time.

But then, God may use these clouds to help us gain perspective on His faithfulness.

Often the clouds of sorrow reveal the sunshine of God's face. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Start Counting Your Blessings

So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen. (Matthew 20:16)

Here we have Jesus' parable of the workers and their grossly unfair paychecks.

Some people who have been idly standing around are hired by a landowner at the eleventh hour (Matthew 20:6-7).

The other workers, who have been serving him all day long, are shocked when each receives identical pay.

The landowner paid the same amount for 1 hour's work as for 12!

Jesus was giving us a parable about grace, which cannot be calculated like a day's wage.

God dispenses gifts, not wages.

Let us never dwell on the efforts we have made.

Let us rather start counting our blessings.