Monday, February 21, 2011


“Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” (Luke 2:9)

Christmas Eve focuses on the birth of Jesus most of the time, but there may be a bigger, more foundational theme in the story. Consider: In the announcement to the shepherds in the fields the glory of the Lord illuminated the fields all around them. After the announcement more angels appeared, praising God, and the first words from their mouths were, “Glory to God in the highest.” After the shepherds had rushed to Bethlehem to see the baby and had returned to the fields, they praised and glorified God along the way. Do you see the common element?

Glory. Glory. Glory. Maybe Christmas as about much more than a humble birth story. It is about glorifying God. This baby was born to the glory of God, and He grew up and did just that. He glorified God His Father by his total obedience to the Father, a demonstration of His love for the Father. He glorified God His Father as well by taking that obedience to the ultimate level – to His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary. His sacrifice was to the glory of God.

The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus not only glorifies God, but it also serves as an invitation to us to join Him in glorifying God. We glorify Him when we walk with Him in a personal faith.

Lord, to You be all glory, honor, and power now and forever. Amen.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Procession

“And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant.” (Luke 2:4-5)

Imagine a long, lonely, dusty road among rolling hills winding its way through the hills to a valley where there is a river. The road continues, paralleling the river so travelers can make the journey to the capital on level ground. The river is called “Jordan.” Choose a spot on that road in your mind, and in that place see a young couple. The young man, with black hair and dark eyes, is bundled against the cold. With him, riding on a donkey, is a young girl who is pregnant and only days from delivering her first-born. He is a descendant of kings. So is she. But he is a carpenter and among the poorest of the poor of the land. Long story. They are a young couple nobody notices. They are journeying on this dusty road to Bethlehem, a young couple insignificant as the world judges people.

No one sees, but the hand of God is on this couple, and angels are going before them preparing the way. The baby she is about to give birth to is going to change the world. And no one can stop it.

Never underestimate even the least of those who are in the Lord. It could be your greatest mistake.

Lord, We are in awe of You and Your wisdom and Your ways. Thank You. Amen.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


“How countless are Your works, Lord! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures.” (Psalm 104:24)

The psalmist did a good job of noting some of the Lords works before finally declaring how countless they are, and then he noted a few more before concluding his psalm with praise and thanksgiving.

He mentioned: light, water, wind, fire, earth, sea, mountains, valleys, springs, animals, birds, plants, fruit, grass, crops, wine, oil, bread, trees, goats, hyraxes, moon, sun, night, lions, man, ships, Leviathan, the face of God, breath, death, dust, creation, glory, smoke, song, praise, and meditation. Great job! You may need to catch your breath.

Since God put each star in place and has a name for each one, and since no one has been able to count them all, and since current estimates are in the billions of stars, the psalmist’s contention is true: God’s works are countless. Indeed, the number of times He forgives us is itself countless, it seems. God’s grace is immeasurable.

Lord, You are worthy of our praise and thanksgiving and worship. Your works in us are countless. We give thanks to You. Amen

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Praise and Thanksgiving

“My soul, praise the Lord, and all that is within me, praise His holy name. My soul, praise the Lord, and do not forget all His benefits.” (Psalm 103:1-2)

Praise and thanksgiving are intentional. These are not arbitrary actions but occurs when we stop to think about how God has blessed us. They may erupt spontaneously, but only after we have taken the time to reflect, pray, and remember. That’s what David id in Psalm 103. He takes a moment to remember some of the benefits of knowing the Lord.

Forgiveness. In His holy sovereignty God could obliterate us all back to the dust with a single thought, but instead He chooses to forgive us out of His grace. Thank You, Lord. We praise You.

Healing. C. Everett Coop, former U.S. Surgeon General, says he has performed around 65,000 surgeries, but he has healed no one. He says that God who created the body causes the body to shoot out the fibroblasts that then bring healing. God is the Author of all healing. Thank You, Lord. We praise You.

Redemption. Whereas sin has all mankind heading to “the Pit,” God has intervened with His Son’s redemptive sacrifice on the cross, providing us with a doorway to eternity with Him in heave. Thank You, Lord. We praise You.

Crowning. God lifts us up and gives us a crown, treating us like royalty, making us part of His royal family with His faithful love and compassion. Thank You, Lord. We praise You.

Satisfaction. Remember a time when you had a great meal. When you finished, you had the great sense of satisfaction. You felt good. Now, transfer that feeling to the spiritual plane. God fills us with His Spirit and gives us a feeling of fullness and goodness, renewing our strength like and eagle that has just fed. Thank You, Lord. We praise You.

Thank You, Lord. We praise You. Intentionally. Amen.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Blessing of Opportunity

“She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45

The words above were spoken by Elizabeth wife of Zechariah to Mary when she went to visit Elizabeth. This most likely happened shortly after Gabriel made his startling announcement to Mary. Mary arrived and greeted Elizabeth. Luke then tells us that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, the baby in her leaped, and Elizabeth was with filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke a blessing to Mary, explaining what her baby did when she heard Mary’s voice. Then she made the statement above. Elizabeth was saying that Mary was blessed because she believed, and that what was spoken of her and to her would be fulfilled.
But here’s the thing: Elizabeth did not know yet that Gabriel had appeared to Mary. She did not yet know all that had transpired, though she spoke as if she did. This means that Elizabeth was speaking prophetically, as the Holy Spirit in her was prompting her. These were words of blessing and affirmation for Mary.
Each day that we live, we, like Elizabeth, have opportunity to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and we have opportunity, by following the promptings of the Holy Spirit, to speak words of blessing and affirmation to someone. Is there someone you can speak words of blessing and affirmation to today? Ask the Holy Spirit to use you to bless and affirm someone before the end of the day.

Lord, May we each bless and affirm someone today in Your name, for Your glory. Amen.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Genuine Christian

“This is how we know we are in Him: The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:5b-6)

How can someone know for certain that he or she is genuinely a Christian? And how can we know that about another? Clearly, it cannot be based purely on someone’s word. Saying you are a Christians does not make it so. John says that the confirmation is in the life that is actually lived. To paraphrase what John said, “We know someone is a genuine Christian who says that he or she is abiding in Christ and who then lives his or her life in the same manner as Christ did.” In today’s vernacular: We walk the talk. What we say we believe is what we do.

True Christians “walk just as He walked.” A statement like this could unnerve some: “You mean, to show I am a Christian I have to give up everything and become an itinerant preacher or missionary?” That probably is not quite what John was suggesting. He seems rather to be talking about the quality of the life Jesus lived: 1) He obeyed the Father, 2) He was faithful in everything, 3) He ministered to the needs of others, 4) He was committed to the will of the Father above all else.

Today, we can give thanks to God for the example Christ set in the life He lived that shows us the way to demonstrate genuine faith. We can give thanks as well that we can know that we are genuine Christians when we back up our testimony with a life well lived, a life that follows His example.

Lord, Today we are forever grateful to You for showing us the way. May we also be faithful in our walk with You. Amen.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A World of Difference

“Mary asked the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?’” (Luke 1:24)

Do you remember Zechariah’s question in response to Gabriel’s announcement that he and Elizabeth would have a son? “How can I KNOW this, for I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years?” Compare that with Mary’s question to Gabriel in response to his announcement that she was going to have a son: “How can this BE, since I have not been intimate with a man?” Some might see their questions as essentially the same, but Gabriel’s respective responses indicate clearly that there was a world of difference. Zechariah was afflicted with a 10-month laryngitis, so to speak; he was rendered unable to speak until John was born. Mary was given an explanation. This indicates that Zechariah was questioning whether having a baby with Elizabeth, given their conditions, was even possible, while Mary was simply asking how this was going to happen in her case. Zechariah’s response was an un-faith response. Mary’s response was a faith response.

Gabriel added a statement at the end of his explanation: “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (verse 38) That is a call to faith to us today.

We may at times find ourselves in situations that appear to have no possible positive outcome. It may feel like we’re having to climb Mount Everest barefooted and with no oxygen: the impossibility of the situation looms far larger than the possibility. That can leave us sitting on our haunches and wondering, paralyzed by the impossible. Generally, that is the point when we begin asking God how we can KNOW for certain that He wants us to do this thing (un-faith), or the point when we begin asking God HOW we can do what He is calling us to do (faith). There is a world of difference between these responses. God is hoping we will choose the faith response.

Father, We think of Christmas, and we recognize that it is very much about a faith response. May that be our response. Amen.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Faith Paradox

“’How can I know this?’ Zechariah asked the angel. ‘For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.’” (Luke 1:18)

It seems surprising that Zechariah would ask this question in these circumstances. For one thing, he was a priest, supposedly a man of faith. For another, he was in a very sacred place where an angel appeared to him. He did not know it, but this was no ordinary angel; this was Gabriel, one of only two archangels mentioned by name in the Bible (the other was Michael). Still, he knew this was an angel sent from God. It would seem that whatever the message, the circumstances alone would be convincing, but after decades of not having a baby and of all those prayers seemingly unanswered, Zechariah blundered through his response, “How can I know?”

Unbelief can be a stubborn mule, refusing to budge. Surprisingly, even where there is an essential faith, a measure of unbelief can persist.

It seems that there is something in us that just wants to know for certain. Maybe it’s related to a basic human insecurity. We tend to see knowledge as our security blanket and risk free, and faith as an insecurity and risky. This mind-set can be so strong that even in a more “knowing environment” like this one Zechariah faced, the move to faith can be resisted.

It’s sad to think about it, but it took ten months of being unable to speak for Zechariah to learn this level of faith. We might say that Zechariah came to know by faith. That is what is called a “paradox of faith.”

The reality is that if we want to know any truth, we can know it only by faith. Ultimately, we need to take action to express what we believe is true. It is only on the other side of faith that we can know.

Lord, You call us to faith. Help us to let go of our need for knowing, and just trust you. Amen.