December 31

Just a couple of thoughts on this New Years Eve.  I found these this week before I finished writing my sermon so they do not have much connecting them to my message, but good thoughts anyway for this new year.  The first is from Charles Swindoll’s book Come before Winter.  “When the wrappings and ribbons are in the trash can and the manger scene is back in the attic and the friends and family have said good-bye and the house feels empty and so to you . . . there is One who waits to fill your heart and renew your hope.  He was there on December 24.  He’ll be there on the 26th.”
The second thought comes from the Advent devotional Good News of Great Joy.  “Many of you are pondering some changes in the new year, because you have fallen into sinful patterns and want out. You want some new patterns of eating. New patterns for entertainment. New patterns of giving. New patterns of relating to your spouse. New patterns of family devotions. New patterns of sleep and exercise. New patterns of courage in witness. But you are struggling, wondering whether it’s any use. Well here’s your [final] Christmas present: Christ not only came to destroy the works of the devil—our sinning— he also came to be an advocate for us when we fail in our fight.  So I plead with you, let the freedom to fail give you the hope to fight. But beware! If you turn the grace of God into license, and say, “Well, if I can fail, and it doesn’t matter, then why bother fighting?”—if you say that, and mean it, and go on acting on it, you . . . should tremble.  But that is not where most of you are. Most of you want to fight sinful patterns in your life. And what God is saying to you is this: Let the freedom to fail give you hope to fight. I write this to you that you might not sin, but if you sin you have an advocate, Jesus Christ.”

December 24

It’s Christmas Eve.  Before I start this devotional, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and pray God’s blessings on all who read this blog.  I have been doing this weekly blog for about 6 months now and going through it again brings back some fond memories on how God has worked and a lot of incites that He has revealed to me the second half of the year.  And this last month, I know I have been doing many quotes from an Advent book about the hymns of Charles Wesley Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Advent and Christmas with Charles Wesley and again I found an interesting thought in it this morning.  I have always taught and preached that Jesus was born a King, but that his kingship was not to be a conqueror on the earth the first time.  But I believe I have that wrong now.  Because while, yes, Jesus came “not to conquer nations, rulers, or people [the first time]; rather he [came to] destroy the power of death” (pg 65).  And if you think about it, that was the world’s greatest enemy: Death.  Jesus came to conquer death and the power it had over our lives.  And once that greatest of enemies was conquered, all the rest is a piece of cake (or pie since it is Christmas Eve).  Jesus’ victory over death gives us victory over nations and rulers and people even though we are still under their “power”.  But because of Jesus’ life, we now have greater power.  I hope this give you strength during this holiday season.  And again MERRY CHRISTMAS

December 17

   I stated in my sermon this week what many of you came as a surprised.  I briefly touched on the fact that there is very little evidence in the Bible that angels sing.  According to the Bible, the only place that suggests that angels sing in the Bible is a poetic reference in Job 38:4-7.  All the other places angels are mentioned have them speaking their messages and not singing.  Now certain modern translations do use the word singing, but it is a mistranslation of the word for speaking.  They translated it in this way because down through the years and in all manner of art forms and music, we have come to believe that angels sing.  I again want to clarify.  I am not saying angels do not sing or that they cannot sing.  I am just saying all the biblical passages about angels do not report them singing (with the possible exception of Job 38, which also has non-angelic interpretations).
   Let me give you a quote from David Jeremiah’s book What the Bible says About Angels.  He is quoting from W. A. Criswell, “Music is made up of major chords and minor chords.  The minor chords speak of the wretchedness, death and sorrow of this fallen creation (Romans 8:22).  Most of nature moans and groans in a plaintive and minor key.  The sound of the wind through the forest, the sound of the storm, the sound of the wind around the house, is always in a minor key.  It wails.  The sound of the ocean moans in its restlessness, in its speechless troubles.  Even the nightingale’s song, the sweetest song of the birds, is the saddest.  Most of the sounds of nature are in a minor key.  It reflects the wretchedness, the despari, the hurt, the agony, the travail of this fallen creation.  But the angel knows nothing of it.  An angel know nothing of wretchedness, nothing of despair, nothing of the fall of our lost race . . . Our sweetest songs with deepest sorrows are fraught.  Somehow it is the sorrow of life, the disappointment of life and the despair of life that makes people sing, either in the blackness of its hour or in the glory of its deliverance.  That is why the redeemed sing and angels just speak of it.  They see it, they watch it, but they know nothing about it.  For it takes a lost and fallen man — who has been brought back to God, who has been forgiven of his sin, who has been redeemed — it takes a saved soul to sing!”
    So maybe the reason why the Bible does not expressly say that angels sing is because they are unable to know and express the feelings we as redeemed people have that cause us to sing.  Think about it.

December 9

I have been reading for my personal devotions this Advent season a book titled “Good News of Great Joy” by John Piper and there has been several places that add to the sermon I preached Sunday, but I felt I did not need to include in the sermon. When talking about power (and the power of Rome, he writes, “Have you ever felt, like me, little and insignificant in a world of seven billion people, where all the news is of big political and economic and social movements and of outstanding people with lots of power and prestige?  If you have, don’t let that make you disheartened or unhappy. For it is implicit in Scripture that all the mammoth political forces and all the giant industrial complexes, without their even knowing it, are being guided by God, not for their own sake but for the sake of God’s little people—the little Mary and the little Joseph who have to be got from Nazareth to Bethlehem. God wields an empire to bless his children.
  He goes on to say the next article, “Now you would think that if God so rules the world as to use an empire-wide census to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, he surely could have seen to it that a room was available in the inn.
Yes, he could have. And Jesus could have been born into a wealthy family. He could have turned stone into bread in the wilderness. He could have called 10,000 angels to his aid in Gethsemane. He could have come down from the cross and saved himself. The question is not what God could do, but what he willed to do.  God’s will was that though Christ was rich, yet for your sake he became poor. The “No Vacancy” signs over all the motels in Bethlehem were for your sake. “For your sake he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
  I like the idea that even though God used His power to bring about His purposes according to His will and plan, but then withheld his power when He came to be born so that He could live His life like ours.

December 3

This last week, I came across this in my devotional time.  It is about waiting on the Lord and in this season of advent as we wait and prepare for the birthday of Jesus, I think this is an important reminder (as well as other times in our lives when we feel God’s calling for us to wait on Him).  “How do we wait for the Lord? In the early years of the Wesleyan revival, this question surfaced with force. Some, convinced that there was nothing they could do to obtain salvation since it was God’s gift, advocated doing nothing at all. “Be still,” they argued. “Do nothing, or you will rely on what you do for your salvation. . . .This disturbed the Wesleys tremendously. Against these advocates of “stillness,” they admonished their followers to immerse themselves in the means of grace. Wait, in other words, in those practices where God has promised to meet us. Pray. Read the word of God. Join in fellowship. Receive Eucharist. Over against a passive approach to waiting on God, they advocated an active spirituality (Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Advent and Christmas with Charles Wesley (p. 12-13))  So let’s wait actively expecting God to break into our lives as He broke into time 2000 years ago.

November 26

This Advent season I have found a book entitled Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Advent and Christmas with Charles Wesley.  As I work through it, I will probably post some of the lessons.  This morning’s story and verse lines up with much that I preached on Sunday about and how the light of Jesus should change our life this Christmas season.
Charles Wesley preached a valedictory sermon to the Oxford University community entitled “Awake, Thou that Sleepest” at famous St. Mary’s Church in 1742. He admonished his hearers to awake from their lack of concern about spiritual needs, from satisfaction in their sin, from contentment in their brokenness, from arrogance and self-centered complacency. The sermon did not go over well, despite the fact that he encouraged the students to reclaim their true identity as God’s children and to receive God’s promise of light, liberation, and love to fill their lives. Charles lamented that so many seemed to prefer the darkness. If we have eyes to see, however, aroused by the light of Christ, we wake to an astonishing grace. God does not wait for us to make the first move. Even as we sleep, the Spirit works in our lives to arouse us from our slumber. Countless acts of mercy, love, and grace surround us day in and day out. God attempts to get our attention in events, through the influence of other people, in sign-acts of love in the church. But most importantly, God wakes us up by coming to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Like the first light of dawn, the beams of this marvelous Light dance around us. The light breaks into the darkness of our sleep and awakens us to a new reality in our lives.
Ephesians 5:8-10 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”

November 19

This week is Thanksgiving.  It is the one time of year when the whole United States get together and give thanks.  I hope that one of the many things that you can give thanks for this year is for the wonderful redeemer we have in God.  He has seen our bondage to sin leading to death and out of His love provided a ransom to pay our way out of that slavery.  We can be free in Christ because of His shed blood.  Thank you for the cross.
Plus I would like to welcome all who are reading this devotion to come and worship this Sunday as we start the Advent season.  Service time is at 10:30.

November 12

I hope this series on The Many Hats of God has broadened your image of God.  God is so big and impossible to understand fully with our limited human minds, that it is a wonder that He was even able to reveal to us even a small part of His glory to us.  And yet these anthropomorphic glimpses so us enough to know that God is wonderful (literally wonder full).  And that is what God is all about.  He has revealed to us these glimpses so that we have know Him and have a relationship with Him.  God has shown us that He loves us, especially in this image of Father that we looked at this last week.  He has shown us His love and yet we have walked away in disobedience.  He is longing that His prodigal children will come to there senses and realize what a good and loving father our God is and to come back to Him humbly and in repentance.  He will not turn us away, or let us wallow with the pigs any more.  He will love us as his dearly loved child and accept us back into the family.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave is one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

November 5

Normally these devotionals are reflections on the sermon of the week.  However, this week, I want to write on a different subject . . . a topic that is more in line with this weeks events.  I am writing this article on Monday morning of the mid-term elections.  I do not know what is going to happen tomorrow.  I do not know who will win or who will lose.  But I would urge anyone who is reading this blog to do three things this week.
First and foremost, pray.  As always our country and our leaders need our prayers.  Despite what some histories tell us, our country was founded on religious freedom.  And even though most of our founding fathers and early colonists had Judeo-Christian backgrounds, they did not want to impose their beliefs on everyone.  They did however use Judeo-Christian principles and values in forming what we now know as the Untied States.  And prayer was something they did regularly in their decision making and shaping.  And prayer is just as important today in keeping America on track.  I truly believe that without consent and consistent prayer, our nation will cease to be.  Scriptures even command us to pray for the leaders ruling over us.  And I do not find any where in the Bible that says that we have to agree with those leaders before we pray for them.  So this week, I want for everyone reading to make a conscience effort to pray for our leader from the White House down.  And especially pray for those men and women who are newly elected (whether Republican or Democrat).  Pray that God would fill them with wisdom and humility.  After all, ultimately it is not the voters that put them into office, but God who see fit to raise up and depose leaders (Dan 4:17).
Secondly, I would urge everyone to vote on Nov 9th.  Do not think your vote does not count or that the mid-terms are not as important as the presidential elections. Do not think that just because to live in a state or area that is dominated by one political party or other that you will be “outvoted”.  Vote anyway or your voice will not be heard.  And do not be lazy or wonder who to vote for.  There are many ways to find out what the various positions and beliefs of the people running for office.  Be informed and vote for the people you think will best represent you.  If you do not know where to vote, find out.  A little research will go a long way.  And remember, no politician or party is perfect.  They have all made mistakes and might not be exactly what you are looking for or believe. Do not let that get you down or scare you away from the polls.  Vote for the person you think will best fill the job they are being asked to do.
Third, Support whoever is voted into office.  Whining or protesting or threatening does you and this country no good.  This also goes back to the first request about praying for our leaders and realizing that God is ultimately in charge of this election.  So if your party does not win, do not worry or wonder if somehow God lost control.  Support them with you money (taxes) and with your prayers.  Write letters informing them of your continued prayers and vision for how you would like them to rule our country.  They have good days and bad days and need encouragement every so often to keep them from discouragement.
Pray, vote, and support (and pray some more).  And through it all God will be honored and glorified.

October 29

HELL IS REAL!  And one day God will sentence everyone who has broken God’s laws to Hell.  This sometimes is a hard message to swallow.  With all the sermons these days on the love of God (which is another hat of God that I will preach in two weeks), we sometimes forget or ignore the fact that God is still Just.  And a just God cannot and will not allow those who have broken God’s laws into heaven.  God Justice cannot do it.  And God’s love (despite what some people think) will not allow it either.  The fact of the matter is when we die here on earth (or are raised to heaven at the end times) will stand before the Judgment seat and will be judged.  Those who know Jesus as their lawyer (if you follow the courtroom metaphors) will be declared justified and free from the penalty of death.  Those who try to make it to heaven on their own (without this lawyer), will be sentenced to die.  It is all spelled out in black and white in Revelation 20.  We also have hints of it in Matthew 25 with the sheep and the goats parable (sheep and goats are shepherd imagery that we will look at when I preach on God as Shepherd (tentative date Dec 30th)).
  So the question the question is, who is your Lawyer?  Jesus or are you going to represent yourself?  Because the fact of the matter is we have all broken God’s law.  As mentioned in the book of James, if we break even one of God’s laws, we are guilty of breaking it all.  We are all transgressors of God’s laws. And no amount of legal wrangling will get you off.  No technicalities, no  mental illness defense, no nothing.  The only way to be pronounced innocent is if you have accepted Jesus’ death on the cross as your payment for your sins.  Because Jesus suffered and died the death of an innocent man, His payment of death can be put onto your verdict.  Jesus can say to the Judge, “I paid the penalty for this person’s sin”.  So even though we are guilty, God can treat us “just as if I’d” never sinned. (Justified).
  If you would like this kind of payment put on your account, you can simply talk to God saying, “God. I know that I am guilty.  I have sinned against you and have no defense for it.  But I know that Jesus died for me.  He paid the price for my sin.  Please accept His penalty for the one I know I deserve.  I want to have Jesus as my lawyer and I claim Him as such right now. Amen”
  If you prayed that prayer, please contact me.  I would love to give you more information on how you can live a justified life before God.  Email me at