Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dont "Zip the Lip"

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I’d be the first to admit that it is not easy to speak boldly about Jesus in our secular culture. The Christian message has been so effectively marginalized that many Christ followers “zip the lip” when it comes to speaking up for Christ. It reminds me of a toddler who runs around singing his lungs out, but when a Mother asks him to sing to others, the child buries his face in the back of her leg. Not only doesn’t he want to sing, he doesn’t want to be seen either.  

It’s sort of cute when the toddler hides behind his Mother, but it is not cute when a Christ follower hides his faith in Christ. Rationalizations like, “I don’t know enough of the Bible” or “I don’t speak well” or “Talking about Jesus might damage my relationship,” isn’t enough.

That’s why God offers Pentecost to each of us just as He did the disciples. By saying that, I don’t mean you have to be Pentecostal. The promise of Pentecost was power to witness for Christ. Here is what Jesus told them, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” [Acts 1:8].

We have a message: Christ was crucified, buried, and He rose again, securing our salvation for time and eternity. Paul said it beautifully, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” [Romans 4:25].

That is life-changing truth! It’s the truth that motivates us to live for Him, to speak boldly about Him. So given your next opportunity, don’t be paralyzed by fear, be filled with the Spirit! Dare to speak about His resurrection love—the Good News of life in His name.

On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “You made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of Your servant, our father David: ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’ 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed. 28 They did what Your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness.  Acts 4:23-29

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Encouragement for your daily walk with God

With age comes deterioration. Take the Dead Sea Scrolls. for example. For a couple of thousand years, they remained in clay jars, hidden in caves in the Judean desert. The dry, arid condition was the perfect spot to preserve them. But upon their discovery, and subsequent removal, they deteriorated very rapidly. 

Special measures were taken to create storage facilities that would mimic the conditions of those caves in order to slow down their catastrophic decay. The Shrine of the Book at the Israeli National Museum is one of those facilities. Ancient manuscripts are stored with state of the art technology that will enable scholars to study the fragments without physically handling them, safeguarding the texts for future generations.

Although stringent measures are taken, it impossible to display them on a continuous basis.  After a scroll has been exhibited for a few months, it is removed from the showcase and returned to the special storeroom, where it “rests” from exposure.

Deterioration does not just strike ancient manuscripts, of course. Everything in this sin-sick, fallen world deteriorates. Everything wears out. Everything is perishable.

When God chose to pay the price for our sins, payment could not be made with something perishable. Whatever the payment, it couldn’t be of temporary value. Enter Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. He shed His “non-perishable” blood, meaning the forgiveness of sins will never deteriorate. 

Everything that you have in Christ will not decay. The Fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control — that are yours in Christ, have no expiration date. They will never expire. Not because of modern, preservation technology, but in the perfect life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.  

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:18-21

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Blotted Out

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

There are many similarities, parallels if you will, between the nation of Israel and Christ followers. I’m not saying they are one and the same, mind you, but often we see ourselves in their story. For example, let’s go back to Isaiah’s day - in the 700’s BC. Israel was in a self-destructive state. They were falling apart, failing, because of their sin, immorality, greed, laziness, and misplaced priorities. Sound familiar? Their safety was a major concern because Sargon II and, later, Sennacherib of Assyria were about to invade their land. During that time, many Israelites had the audacity to bemoan the “good ol’ days,” and question God about His love for them and why He didn’t intervene. Didn’t He care about them anymore? Didn’t He love them?

Through the prophets, God let them know that they deserved what they were getting because of their sins. They deserved their earthly punishment because they had sinned over and over again. But then, God said a remarkable thing, something only a loving God could say, I will “blot out your transgressions.” Sure, they suffered for their transgressions. Both Sargon and Sennacherib came and decimated the people. But God did not leave them forsaken in a sinful state. He restored them to vitality. 

We can be thankful that God deals with us like that. We deserve wrath, punishment, and, yes, hell for our transgressions. And while we may experience earthly consequences for our sins, from the eternal perspective, God “blots out our transgressions.” All because “He who knew no sin became sin for us” [2 Corinthians 5:21]. By faith in what Christ did for us at Calvary, God chooses not to remember our sins, ever. That is Good News!

I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for My own sake and will never think of them again.   Isaiah 43:25

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Only Name that Matters

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Years ago I attended California Graduate School of Theology. Each year we were blessed with two convocations, one in the Fall and one in the Spring. We were privileged to have some of America’s greatest evangelists, pastors, and scholars to speak to the students. I had a personal favorite, though. He was Dr. E. V. Hill [now deceased], the former pastor of the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Man oh man, could he preach — hours on end!

In his book, A Savior Worth Having, he wrote about an incident when a radical group threatened to kill him if he preached one more sermon about Jesus. We’re not talking about Iraq, Iran, or Afghanistan here. No, this was Los Angeles, California. When he told the police about the threat, they encouraged him not to speak at his church for a few Sundays, to let things cool down a bit. Dr. Hill told them, “It’s your job to keep me alive, and it’s my job to preach Jesus Christ.” 

Sure enough, the next Sunday, there was Dr. Hill standing behind the pulpit. All of the Elders and Deacons came and sat on the front rows of the church. And when he preached, he let it rip! “I want to call His name out loud,” he said. “His name is J-E-S-U-S — Jesus! So if it’s my last time and a bullet strikes me down, I want to go out saying, ‘Jesus!’”

How about that! Jesus, there’s power in His name. Jesus, there’s victory in His name. Jesus, there’s authority in His name. And as the great singer, Andre Crouch, was fond of saying, “Demons tremble at the sound of His name.”

It was Jesus, and only Jesus, who offered Himself as the righteous sacrifice for sin by shedding His blood on our behalf. No name is more powerful. Christ followers know that in the name of Jesus, sinners are saved, lives are changed, sick bodies healed, and eternal destinies secured. 

There is no other name. Say it with me please, Jesus — our beloved Savior. 

Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one. Acts 4:12 [The MESSAGE]

Friday, April 24, 2015

What Really Matters

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

My dear Jan and I have been to England several times. On one of those trips, our guide pointed out a beautiful sculpture and told us it was created by John Bacon [1740-1799]. It was an impressive work, and I found myself wanting to know a little more about him. I discovered that he had been commissioned to do many projects in Great Britain. Locals and tourists can still see his awe-inspiring works in Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral, Bristol Cathedral, the Somerset House, Guild Hall and other places. 

The thing that fascinated me the most was his burial site at the Whitfield Tabernacle in London. He wrote his own epitaph. Everyone who passes his tomb reads this: “What I was as an artist seemed of some importance to me while I lived; but what I was as a believer in Jesus Christ is the only thing of importance to me now.”

Maybe you’re a student trying to pass to the next grade level or pass a final exam. Perhaps you’re a businessman or woman rushing to meet your next deadline. Perchance you’re retired and battling poor health. No matter where you are in life, there are always urgent matters in the here and now. 

But let me encourage you to never allow the urgent to overshadow what is really important — your relationship with Jesus. None of us knows when our life will end, but when it happens, God’s gracious forgiveness of your every sin at Calvary’s cross is the only thing that matters. 

While you are living, work hard using your talent to the best of your ability. That is good and right, and well pleasing to God. But keep this in mind; what really matters is your bond of faith with the Son of God, Jesus, our Savior.

And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. Romans 8:10

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ruach: Like A Breath of Fresh Air

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

The year was 1969. It sticks in my mind because it was the year of my first flight in an airplane. I was with a friend who laughed at my excitement. He was such an experienced guy, having previously been on an airplane, a cruise ship, and had even driven a race car. As we ascended above the clouds, I got my first bird’s eye view of our planet. There was a brownish grey cloud above the horizon. I remember saying something like, “There must be a dust storm somewhere. Look at all the dirt in the sky ahead.” More laughter from my worldly friend. “Haven’t you heard of smog before? Well, you’re looking at it.” I could hardly believe my eyes.

Fast forward to today. There is still a lot of pollution in the world, and some environmental engineers say that China is among the most polluted nations on earth. How is the government dealing with it? They have teamed up with engineers and innovators to open oxygen stations. That’s right, you can visit a breathing station and take in the atmosphere that has been bottled up from the Laojun Mountains. Some call it an oxygen transfusion.

I’m currently teaching about Holy Spirit in a series of sermons titled Ruach. Ruach is a Hebrew word that can be translated wind, breath, or spirit. The Greek word, pneuma, is the New Testament equivalent. 

I love talking about the Holy Spirit because, in a sense, He is like heavenly oxygen to our soul. Living in our sin-sick world, we constantly breathe the atmosphere of our toxic culture. Being filled with the Spirit is like getting an oxygen transfusion. So breathe deeply dear Christ follower. How refreshing is the Breath of God!

The song writer had it right:

Breathe on me, breath of God, 
Fill me with life anew, 
That I may love what Thou dost love, 
And do what Thou wouldst do.
(Breathe on Me, Breath of God, Edwin Hatch, 1878)

Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:18-21

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Love Like You’re Being Loved

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

There are many issues in life that need to come from deep within our hearts. But we have a problem. The prophet Jeremiah told us that the heart is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” [Jeremiah 17:9]. A lifelong you-are-my-one-and-only love, just doesn’t seem to be in our hearts. An I’m-sticking-with-you-no-matter-what kind of friendship, cannot be found in our hearts. And what about loving your enemies like Jesus talked about? Impossible! We need help beyond our hearts, a transfusion of sorts. If we are to love as God does, we must start by receiving and living in His love. 

It’s easy to quote Bible verses like, “Love one another” [John 15:17], or “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” [Romans 12:10], or “above all things have fervent love for one another” [1 Peter 4:8], but it’s another thing to live it unless the love of God has been “poured out” in your heart [Romans 5:5]. A good analogy is check writing. It doesn’t do any good to write a check unless there are sufficient funds in your account to cover it. Trying to love without love is, well, impossible. 

No wonder so many friendships are overdrawn and marriages bankrupt. People are writing love checks with insufficient funds!

The key to loving is to have your heart filled with the love of God. The secret to loving is living loved.

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love… 1 John 4:9-10a

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Unshakeable Trust

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

She was emotionally conflicted and physically drained. Her brother had recently died and a late-comer to the funeral asked a most difficult question. It was Jesus. He looked Martha directly in the eyes and said, “Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die. Do you believe it?” Her response was amazing. She said, “Yes, Lord, I’ve always believed!” 

In her answer, Martha expressed unshakeable trust in Jesus. Her confidence serves as an example to all Christ followers. We face many challenges, often daily. Some are rather easy to deal with while others require supernatural strength. In other words, we need a source of strength beyond ourselves. It’s available to you, dear Christ follower. Do you believe it?

When a loved one dies, when you receive an unfavorable diagnosis, when your business goes bankrupt, when your marriage turns sour, when you fail the test, when you are emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually empty, do you believe? Can you still say, “Yes, Lord, I’ve always believed!”

At the worst possible time, in her weakest moment, Martha said, “Yes, Lord, I’ve always believed. I trust You!” We all need that same unshakeable trust. There is One who never fails. There is One who brings light in the darkest times. He is Jesus. He is the One you can always trust. Do you believe this? Say it with me, “Yes, Lord, I’ve always believed. I trust You!”

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed You are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One who has come into the world from God.”  John 11:25-27

Monday, April 20, 2015

Take Another Look

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Look at that prisoner on death row. He’s about to get a lethal injection. He was found guilty and his punishment fit the crime. He was a bad man and had committed a heinous crime. He’s getting exactly what he deserved.

Look at that man on the cross. He must have done something terrible, treason, most likely. He’s getting what He deserved…but just a moment. Take another look!

From the perspective of the people who witnessed the crucifixion, He was just another criminal, supposedly the leader of a small band of insurrectionists…but just a moment. Take another look!

When the religionist looked at Him, he saw a condemned man suffering and dying. He was separated from God, stricken and smitten. He was getting what He deserved, affliction…but just a moment. Take another look!

700 years before the cross, the prophet Isaiah looked ahead and saw that He was not a criminal. He was no ordinary man. He was the promised Savior. He was not getting what He deserved, He was getting what we deserved! He was wounded for OUR transgressions. He was bruised for OUR iniquities. 

Wherever you are today - standing, sitting, kneeling - I encourage you to take another look at the cross. Those are your transgressions, your iniquities, your sorrows, your punishment—on Him! 

Now take another look! Do you see it? Peace, healing, forgiveness—in Jesus!

But  He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:3-6

Friday, April 17, 2015

Think, Ponder, Meditate

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Meditation is… spiritually “digesting” the Scripture—applying it, thinking out how it affects you, describes you, guides you in the most practical way. Timothy Keller, in Prayer

When I say the word meditate, what picture comes to mind? For many, it’s a person sitting in the lotus position with thumb and middle finger forming a circle, eyes shut, muttering the inimitable “Ohm, ohm, ohm.” 

Even if you think that image is silly, Harvard scientists released a study last year demonstrating how meditation helps “fight the crippling high stress levels we experience during our busy lives…[and] it can change the physiology of a person’s brain.” [See] Although it referred to human techniques, can you imagine how much higher the scoring would have been if they had also considered the spiritual discipline of meditating on Scripture! 

I’m often asked by Christ followers about how to deal with stress in their lives. Although it is a complex issue, many believers are not thinkers, ponderers, meditators. Listen to King David’s testimony of this: I meditate within my heart… I will also meditate on all Your work…. I will meditate on Your precepts… My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word. [Psalm 77:6, 12; 119:15, 148].

If you are one of the Christ followers that meditate, good for you. Keep it up! If not, I urge you to get started right away. But how, you ask? First, read and study God’s word, the Bible. Afterwards, start thinking about what you’ve read. Ponder it as you shower, exercise, work around the house, take breaks or lunchtime at work. Turn off the TV set a little early, find a comfortable chair or sofa and sit quietly, reflecting on your reading. You can even meditate as you rest in bed before going to sleep. 

It won’t take long before you realize that you are getting into the Word of God and His Word is getting into you. That’s delightful!

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

He Chose You!

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Jesus was the model servant. I particularly like the choices He made. I wish I were more like Him.

He chose Nazareth over centerstage Jerusalem—“Can anything good come from Nazareth?” 

He chose manual labor over a marbled palace. 

For thirty years or so, He chose anonymity over popularity. 

He chose prayer over sleep. 

He chose the wilderness over the comfortable Jordan Valley.

He chose irascible disciples over angels. Given the choice, I’d have gone with angels. My discipleship team would have been archangels, cherubim and seraphim—witnesses of the wall of water at the Red Sea and falling fire at Carmel. Yep, I’d have chosen angels. 

Not so with Jesus. He chose people. He chose the likes of Peter, Matthew, James and John (the Sons of Thunder), Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene. These were storm fearers, revenuers, prostitutes, greedy. 

And what daily grips my heart is that He chose me. He chose YOU too!

You are My witnesses, says the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. Isaiah 43:10

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pass It On

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I spent about a half an hour yesterday talking with a friend of mine who lives in Jerusalem. He’s among the leaders of Jerusalem Cornerstone Foundation. Yoni is an expert Israeli guide and my “go to” guy for putting Holy Land tours together. We discussed many things about a trip I’m planning in 2016, Lord willing. While talking about the time I want to spend in Galilee, the Mt. of Beatitudes came up. After hanging up, I got a Bible and read Matthew’s account of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. What grabbed my attention was the Lord’s statement about mercy.

There are many ways to show mercy. We know that God delights in mercy [Micah 7:18], but as a Christ follower, we, too, have an opportunity to reflect that character of God. But how? 

You can…

Be merciful to the poor. “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren…you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs” [Deuteronomy 15:7-8]. 

Spiritually speaking, you can…

Pity the lost. St. Augustine once said, "If I weep for that body from which the soul is departed, how should I weep for that soul from which God is departed?” [Quoted in The Beatitudes, by Thomas Watson, p. 144]. Both Jesus [Luke 23:34] and Stephen [Acts 7:60] had pity on sinners shortly before their deaths.

You can…

Speak out against sin. Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy, "The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all . . . with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” [2 Timothy 2:24-25].

So many things come to mind. Praying for someone can be an act of mercy, preaching the gospel too. Sharing your love for Christ and all things godly may just be the most merciful thing you can do. There’s so much more. My hope is that this short eDevotion will encourage you to discover and pass on the “abundant mercy” God has shown to you.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matthew 5:7

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Glory of Jesus

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Where would you expect to see Jesus in His glory? Do you have a place in mind? Is it a picture of Him sitting on a throne in heaven? Is it a picture of Him surrounded by an angelic host? Is it a picture of His countenance shining like the noonday sun? Fair enough; good choices, all of them. I have one more picture to proffer: His battered and bloody body hanging on the cross of Calvary, where the very Son of God gave His life for your sins and mine. Doesn’t seem a likely picture of His glory, does it? 

When Jesus said, “It was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name” [John 12:27-28], He was a mere five days from His death. When He spoke those words, the cross was right before Him. It was an unlikely place to find the Creator of the universe, yet He was going there knowingly, determinedly, willingly. Why, you ask? Because the cross was not a place of defeat for Jesus. Rather, it was a place where His glory was magnificently displayed. 

What glory the cross! It was the place where the redemption price was offered once and for all for our sins. It was the place where God’s wrath against sin was satiated. It was the place where “the prince of this world” — the devil, himself — was completely defeated and “driven out.” So there He hung, in all His glory. For what could be more glorious than saving the world — saving you and me — so that, by faith in Him, we will live with Him in glory forever!

Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. John 12:27-33

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Don't Worry

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Living a worry-free life is easier said than done. Let’s be honest; for some, it’s nearly impossible. That’s why many of us shake our heads when the apostle Paul said, “Don’t worry about anything” [Philippians 4:6]. Yeah, right! Open your eyes, Paul, there is so much in this sin-sick world to be worried about:
  • The sun is blasting cancer-causing rays.
  • Air ducts are blowing out lung-clotting molds. 
  • Cheetos have too many carbs!
  • Veggies are grown in soil that is farmed out and full of toxins.
  • Coffee is bad for you…no wait, they just changed their minds again.
  • My kids won’t talk to me, I’m worried sick.
  • My kids tell me everything, I’m worried sick.
Is there a cure for worry? Yes, I know just the antidote. His name is Jesus. His invitation isn’t for a life of less worry, but of full rest for your soul — that sounds like no worry to me. And I like the sound of that!

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29

Friday, April 3, 2015

Acquainted with Grief

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I’ve read it over and over, and it’s still impossible to comprehend the Lord’s ordeal in the Garden of Gethsemane. Try as we may, the full weight of Jesus’ agony is more than our minds can take in. But because He was the sinless Son of God, He perceived the full scope of the horror of sin in a way we never can. That should not come as a surprise to any Christ follower. Every thing in the life of Jesus, even the agony at Gethsemane, was part of God’s foreordained plan of redemption.

His experience in Gethsemane fits perfectly with what we know about Him from Scripture. Isaiah predicted Him to be “…a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” [Isaiah 53:10]. And often we find Him weeping, like the time at Lazarus’ tomb [John 11:35], and over the entire city of Jerusalem [Luke 19:41].

Gethsemane was the accumulation of the sorrow and grief He had to deal with in His earthly ministry. Sure, there was more suffering to go through, but He resolved that in Gethsemane. Christ’s dark struggle in the Garden is an example of how we can have a godly response to our struggles and sorrows too. His response to sorrow, grief, temptation, and suffering, makes me cry out, “I want to be like You!”

Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Matthew 26:36

Thursday, April 2, 2015

He Brought Peace

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I recently read that some historians estimate there have been 14,351 wars, 3.64 billion people killed in those wars, and only 292 years of peace since 3,600 B.C. If those numbers are true, it means that in the last 5,614 years there has been peace only 5% of the time.

What if I told you that a king who could change all of that was coming to us riding on a donkey, would you be a little skeptical? Would it help if I told you that I was talking about a different kind of peace?

How about peace for that battle that rages inside of you? The apostle Paul talked about it. He described it as the conflict you fight between the good you want to do, but don’t, and the evil you don’t want to do, but do. Do you recognize that struggle? How many times has it put you at odds with God? How many peace treaties with God have you broken? Now if I told you about that King who would lead the charge for peace, would you still be skeptical or would you yearn for that peacemaker?

Jesus is that peacemaker! We are in the Holy Week celebrating His triumphal entry into Jerusalem to do battle with the worst enemy known to mankind—sin, death, and the devil. In that battle, Jesus suffered and died. But there was purpose in it. “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteousness, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). He wasn’t defeated by death. He triumphed in the resurrection—your sins are no longer held against you. “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them” [2 Corinthians 5:19a].

Because Jesus was crucified, and risen, the weapons of the enemy have been destroyed, and his power defeated! I say, “Hallelujah!” What do you say?

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Romans 5:1

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Worthy of Honor

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Philippians 2:5-11

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The highest honor given by the United States military is the Medal of Honor. It is awarded for personal acts of valor “above and beyond the call of duty.” The Medal of Honor was created in 1861 during the Civil War and only 3,468 medals have been awarded. It just so happens that I live around the corner from a Medal of Honor recipient. He is one of the 246 people to have received the award for an act of heroism in Vietnam. The Medal of Honor is truly a prestigious award.

If you follow the liturgical calendar, we are celebrating the Holy Week. It is a time when we remember what Jesus went through — His suffering and death — to pay for our sins. What He did for you and me was “above and beyond the call of duty!” 

In writing to the Philippian Christ followers, Paul listed some of what Jesus did for us. Although He was true God, He willingly became true man. Furthermore, in humility, He suffered an agonizing death on a cross. Here’s how, in part, the Nicene Confession states it:

[I believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures.

During this Holy Week, we remember and proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection. I don’t know what that does for you, but it drives me to confess my sinfulness that made His death necessary. But I don’t stop there, no! I throw my hands into the air and rejoice that He went “above and beyond the call of duty.” He fought the battle over sin and won the victory for each of us! I say, “Hallelujah!” What do you say?  

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power. Revelation 4:11a