All For The Glory of God

even-smaller-bug-light115 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. — 1 Peter 3:1​5, 16 NIV

In the Old and New Testament, the word “heart” refers not to the physical organ, but to the center of all of our life processes.  The “heart” is the seat of our minds, emotions, and wills. ​Therefore, it refers to our thought patterns, our attitudes and our desires. Our thoughts become actions which beome habits which become our lifestyle. The things and/or people that we spend the most time thinking about, in reality, are the things that control our lives.  This is characterized by the following verse:

45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. — Luke 6:45 NIV
​Revere can be defined as “honor, look up to, or  put on a pedestal”.  A throne is a pedestal and our “hearts” are the center of our lives.  So, if we revere God, we honor Him by putting Him on the throne of our hearts and make Him the center of our lives.  Our decisions and thus, our lifestyles, will be examples of the Person we love and admire the most.  We will want others to follow our Leader.  In light of all this, we need to spend the majority of our time thinking about our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  If we do this, we will “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  We need to do this with love, gentleness and respect.  Just as our checkbooks show the patterns of our physical lifestyles, so our conversations show the patterns of our thought life and our spiritual lives. It is a law unto itself:
 

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. — Romans 8:5 NIV

​So, let us, along with the Psalmist, ask God to create a clean heart in each of us. We need clean hearts if we are going to fulfill the sole purpose for which we were created and that is to glorify God.​
 
31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. — 1 Cor. 10:31 NKJV

The Bad and the Ugly

even-smaller-bug-light110 For,  “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.  11  They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 12  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” — 1 Peter 3:10-12 NIV

 ​Somehow, somewhere, it seems that we have gotten the idea that it is not necessary for us to be careful of the words we speak and the tone of voice we use when we speak those words.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  When I become frustrated and/or angry, I hear myself speaking unkind words in a tone that I should not be using.  I am always convicted of the words and the attitude that caused me to speak those careless words.  Not always immediately, but the Holy Spirit does not leave me alone until I agree with Him and confess my sin. I am so grateful that God loves me enough to discipline me, no matter how long it takes. The passage of scripture quoted here in 1 Peter (oringinally from Psalm 34:12-16) reminds me that as a Christian, I should not be guilty of speaking words in that tone of voice.  If I truly “love life” and want to “see good days”, I must “keep my tongue from evil and my lips from deceitful speech”.  I must “seek peace and pursue it”, then God’s eyes will be on me and He will hear my prayers.  If I continue to rebel against God with unkind words and a bad attitude,  I have no basis to expect Him to do anything for me. God seems to be teaching me a lesson that “bad things happen to good people” sometimes because He disciplines His children.  The obverse of this is that He doesn’t discipline those that are not His children, but they will receive the full brunt of His wrath in the fullness of time.  Our part, then, is to remain obedient and faithful and He will do His part. As the Psalmist puts it:

8  Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.  9  For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.  10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found.  11  But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. — Psalm 37:8-11 NIV

 This lesson was meant for me specifically.  After some prayer and meditation, I felt that I should follow the advice given to us in James and ask for your prayers so that I can do better in the future.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. — James 5:16 NIV
Post 12-30-2015

Home, But Never Alone

even-smaller-bug-light139 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.  41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. — Luke 2:39-41 NIV

 ​If this Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, then why would Joseph, Mary and He have to continue to fulfill all the requirements of the law?  His birth did not destroy or abolish the law. It was a part of the fulfillment of the law.. 
 

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. — Matt.5:17 NIV

 The new covenant could not become effective until after His death and resurrection. The forgiveness of sin required the shedding of blood.  Jesus lived a life of perfection completely obedient to the Father.  

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. — John 5:19 NIV

​Jesus is our example​ to follow.  He has given us a book penned under the direction and inspiration of the third Person of the Trinity.  That book is His story. It shows us His character and tells us that He has given us everything we need to live a lifestyle that reflects His character.  
 

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. — 2 Peter 1:3 NIV

Read that book daily, meditate on it, store it in your heart, pick scripture passages to pray for yourself and others and spend as much time as possible with the Author.  ​That is our part and we can be assured that if we do our part, He is always faithful to do His.
 
Post 12-29-2015

God’s Faithfulness

even-smaller-bug-light136 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. — Luke 2:36-38​ NIV

What faithfulness and perserverance was shown by Anna​. We don’t know how many years she was at the temple, but if she married at the normal age for that time, it could have been sixty years or more.  She “worshipped night and day, fasting and praying”.  Anna had given up everything to fast, pray and worship God   Her faithfulness led to her being allowed to speak to the parents and others telling them that Jesus was the long awaited Redeemer of Israel. It also led to her being one of the first few people to see Jesus and to her becoming one of the characters in the story of the greatest birth ever recorded.  What a reward for her faithfulness. These three verses are probably the least known of the verses in the story in Luke, yet, they announce the fulfillment of the prophecy that a Redeemer would come to Israel and His name would be Emmanuel.  Anna’s words became part of the basis for one of the most well-known Advent carols ever written.  This short passage is a great encouragement for us to remain faithful to God through the good times and the bad times.  God is always faithful and He always rewards faithfulness. 
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” — Lamentations 3:22-24 NIV
Let us use these two passages of scripture to remind us to be faithful throughout the year, through the good times and the rough times.  In the fullness of time, our Redeemer will come again to ransom us and our reward will be an eternity spent with Him.
Post 12-28-2015

Learning to Lean

even-smaller-bug-light128 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.  30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,  31  which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:  32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”  33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.  — Luke 2:28-33 NIV

​Simeon​ was a priest serving in the temple at the time Joseph and Mary borught Jesus to be consecrated.  He had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would be honored to see the Lord’s Messiah before he died.  God arranged that Simeon would be walking in the courtyard when Joseph and Mary arrived with baby Jesus. It is amazing how God manages all the little details to be sure that His promises never fail.  It should give us great comfort and peace to know how much God cares about us.  How carefully He watches over us allowing and/or causing every piece of the puzzle to fall into place to fulfill HIs plan.  The events in our lives happen just in time and are designed to help us grow spiritually.  They are sometimes trying but they are never more than we can bear, if we lean on Him in those times.

10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.​ I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. — Isaiah 41:10 NIV

 Some people may feel that God has never spoken to them or promised them anything.  But, truthfully, He has promised each of us everything that we need to live the life that He has called us to live.
 

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature — 2 Peter 1:3, 4a NIV
​So, in the best of times and the worst of times, if we lean on Jesus, we can always go in joy and peace.
12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; — Isaiah 55:12a NIV
Post 12-27-2015

His Story – From Genesis to the Revelation

even-smaller-bug-light1God created a perfect earth.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.– Genesis 1:31a NIV

Deception and sin enter​ed​ through the serpent​ and the battle on earth begins.

15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” — Genesis 3:15 NIV

Jesus Wins!

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”– Rev 5:13

​satan loses!​

10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. — Rev. 20:10
Each of us must make a choice and these are the consequences of our choice.

6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.This is the second death.”– Rev. 21:6-8 NIV

We know the beginning and we know the end.  ​Joshua knew the beginning.  I don’t know whether he knew the ending or not, but he made the right choice.
 

14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” — Joshua 24:14, 15 NIV

 
Be a Joshua​!  Don’t choose the gods of this world, choose the only true and living God!  Choose Jesus!
Post 12-26-2015

Shepherds, Why This Jubilee?

even-smaller-bug-light1No army, no weapons, no royal garments, no worldwide proclamations, an announcement made to shepherds in a field. Just a poor couple in a lowly situation giving birth to a baby. Nothing unusual going on here, happens all the time.  And, yet, this is how God’s plan began to unfold.  Although it was well documented in the Old Testament, few chose to believe the prophecies, Because they refused to believe, this event came like a sneak attack in the midnight hours, in the most unlikely of places. No army, just one person and that person was a baby.  No wonder, the enemy never saw it coming.  How could anyone know that it was God Himself?  His redemption plan required Him to become flesh with real blood flowing through His veins. That blood would have to be shed to fulfill the law and redeem us from our sinful state.  It would be years later before the world realized what had taken place then and who arrived on the scene that night.  

13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. — Isaiah 7:13, 14 NIV

Immanuel, God with us!  The people didn’t believe it in Isaiah’s time and very few believed it,  that night,  years later in Bethlehem.  But, yet, there, in a manger laid the living proof that God had put aside all His glory and came to earth to win the battle for us.  Such magnificient, incomprehensible love demands our allegiance, our praises and our worship!  Such unimaginable love is more than reason enough to celebrate all the time, not just one day a year!
 
Shepherds, why this jubilee
Why your joyous strains prolong
Say what may these tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song
Gloria, Gloria
Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the new born King
Gloria, Gloria
Come to Bethlehem and see!  The invitation is still open!  
Will you come?  Will you believe?   If not now, when? 
Post 12-25-2015