Thursday, December 31, 2009

Better is One Day in Your Courts

I was reading in Luke 9 this morning, and Jesus was talking about discipleship. Following Jesus isn't easy. He requires alot of us. The people that He invited to follow Him made excuses "Let me bury my father first" (v.59). In v. 61, they wanted to go and say goodbye to their family first. I understand from many theologians that these people weren't saying, "Wait a minute, let me literally go say goodbye, and I'll be right back." They were saying, when my dad dies, then I'll come follow You. Regardless of what is literally being said here, Jesus requires His followers to be fully committed to Him. Nothing is priority over Him. I remember saying, "God don't come until I graduate from school or until I get married or until I have kids." The reality was that this life was more important to me than He was.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't fully arrived. One day, when I get to Heaven, maybe I will have arrived . . . but for now, I struggle on . . . daily battling my fleshly desires. I have graduated & I have gotten married. I don't have any kids, and I'm not financially secure, but I battle daily to make sure that my priorities are His priorities. I battle daily to be sure that I don't wish my life away so that I can finally give my everything to Him. I hear often, "Well, I'm too busy. School (or work, or family, or church activities, or tv shows) takes too much of my time." Guess what, your life is never going to slow down. You need to make a choice to make His priorities your priorities.

I was listening to Pandora this morning, and Better is One Day in Your Courts came on. I'm finding that it is much better to be in His courts for a few minutes than a lifetime anywhere else.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Glory to God in the Highest

Christmas is about worshipping God. The shepherds came to worship. The wise men came and worshipped, and we should too. Everything is about God getting the glory, so why wouldn't Christmas be about God's glory too?

Simeon in Luke 2 is a great example of this. First off, I was under the impression that Mary & Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to see Simeon & Anna. I thought that Simeon was doing the circumcision or something. But upon closer reading of Luke 2, this isn't at all the case. Simeon was just a righteous & devout follower of God who lived in Jerusalem and was waiting for the promised Messiah. The Holy Spirit directed him to the temple when Mary & Joseph came there, so he could see the promised Messiah in the flesh. He sees Jesus & blesses God.

"And he [Simeon] came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 'Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.'" (Luke 2:27-32)

Anna the prophetess does the same thing. She comes up at the moment that Simeon is speaking. "At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem." (vs 38).

How much do we bless God this season? Half of the Christmas carols talk about giving Him glory, but do we focus on that? We are supposed to do it all the time, but we get so caught up in life. Take time each day & give GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!

Do the ends justify the means?

Just before Jesus ministry began, he was in the wilderness, and Satan came to tempt Him (Luke 4). Satan suggested that Jesus make stones into bread bkz Jesus was hungry. On the surface, nothing seems wrong with this request, but Satan was asking Him to prove He was the Son of God by making stones into bread. Jesus, in His pride or arrogance, could have done so to say, "See what I can do? See Who I am?" But He had nothing to prove to Satan, so He responded with "Man shall not live on bread alone" (vs. 4).

So then Satan offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would just bow down and worship him. Jesus could avoid all of the pain and suffering that He would experience in about 3 years if He just bowed down to worship Satan. It seems a whole lot easier, bkz then the kingdoms of the world would belong to Jesus and His death would be unnecessary. But He submitted to God's will, and didn't allow Satan to get any glory. Only God deserves glory. He responded, "You shall worship the Lord Your God and serve Him only" (vs. 8).

The third time Satan takes Him up on the pinnacle of the temple, and says basically, "Go ahead and show off . . . if You throw yourself off of this pinnacle, You can command angels to come save You. That would be cool to show off Your power." Satan even quotes Scripture to try to convince Jesus. But Jesus responds, "You shall not put the Lord Your God to the test" (vs. 12).

Jesus was more concerned about God's agenda . . . and not just the end result of God's agenda, but the process as well. He followed God's will, and He didn't break any of God's laws in the process.

The Catholic church has a law that exempts lying in self-defense of life, person, & property, but God is clear that lying is sin. If we have to sin to carry out what we think it God's will, then the means probably isn't God's will. Don't you think that God would take care of us if we chose to do what He commands us to do?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pondering Joseph & Mary's Journey

I'm always intrigued by the songs that people have written about Mary & Joseph. They pose intriguing questions and thoughts of what might have been going through their heads. Like "when you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God?" (Mary Did You Know). "How could it be this baby in my arms, sleeping now, so peacefully, the Son of God, how could it be?" (Joseph's song).

I started reading Luke the other day, since I had finished Judges, and was looking for somewhere to go. The Christmas story seemed appropriate. God has shown me more this year than ever before about the story. I've been able to put myself in their shoes a little more. Yesterday, when I was reading about Zacharias & Elizabeth, I thought it was interesting that Zacharias referred to Jesus as "the Sunrise from on High." I liked that as you probably gathered from a recent blog.

This morning as I'm reading about the shepherds, an angel of the Lord appears to them, and they are afraid. I'm sure they were more than startled when it says "suddenly" (2:13) a multitude of heavenly host appeared. They go running to find this child, and then tell everyone what the angel told them "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (2:11 & 17). The Savior that they had been waiting for and they had heard nothing about for 400 years was here!

Vs. 19 says, "but Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." How cool to hear & observe these shepherds that she didn't know from Adam come running in to see the Savior. I'm sure Mary & Joseph didn't tell too many people for fear of people thinking they are nuts or for even talking about her being pregnant without being married. They probably laid low during her pregnancy as much as possible. It was like God continued to confirm for her that He was doing this, and she could trust Him, even though she had already committed to Him (1:38).

I love how when we obey Him willingly, He blesses us so much for our obedience. I think this is what Mary was treasuring in her heart. Do we obey willingly even if it will "look bad" to the world around us?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

My new favorite Christmas carol is Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. I've been learning over the last few years more and more about Christmas. God's people had been waiting for the Messiah. After Malachi, there was 400 years of hearing nothing from God. Talk about trusting God! Those people waited a long time for God's promise to be fulfilled. Read the words to this song with those thoughts in mind.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set Thy people free

From our fears and sins release us

Let us find our rest in Thee

Israel's strength and consolation

Hope of all the earth Thou art

Dear desire of every nation

Joy of ev'ry longing heart

Born Thy people to deliver

Born a child, and yet a King

Born to reign in us forever

Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring

By Thine own eternal Spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone

By Thine all sufficient merit

Raise us to Thy glorious throne

Israel's strength and consolation

Hope of all the earth Thou art

Dear desire of every nation

Joy of ev'ry longing heart

Come Jesus Come

So now, as we celebrate the fact that He did come even after 400 years of silence from God. He came, He lived, He died, & He rose again. AND He will also come again. We wait in expectation of His return. I get very tired of the fallenness of this world, and so let's reflect on Him . . . He is coming again to restore His kingdom. So I'm longing for the expected Jesus! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2009


Wow . . . it has been awhile since I posted. The Lord has been taking me through a very dry time, but He has still been faithful.

This morning, I walked out of my bedroom to the sunrise shining through the window. I love sunrises. God & I have this agreement that whenever I see a good sunrise or sunset, that I will stop & reflect on His love & faithfulness. So this morning, I stood in my living room, eating my yogurt, and pondering God's love & faithfulness to me.

As I watched the sun rise, a layer of dark cloudiness hovered above. Within a couple of minutes, the sun rise was limited by that cloudiness, and eventually I couldn't see the sunrise anymore. All I could see was clouds. I said to the Lord, "Is this foretelling of my day today? Are you saying, 'Remember I love you, bkz it is going to get difficult?'" He said, "All I'm saying is that sometimes, you can easily see My love & faithfulness, and other times, you need to just trust Me that it is there."

So as I came to work and things went nuts for the first 3 hours, I looked back and said, "Yes, He loves me. He chose me. He is still faithful . . . even when everything else is trying to distract me from that truth."