Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Where has this year gone?

I sound crazy asking this question. But I really do wonder where this year has gone? I wonder what will this next year will bring? I wonder will this next year be different from last year? I wonder about how my life with Christ will be different? Julie and I long to be parents. Will this be the year? Am I ready for this?
What are you thinking about as we close out one year and move on into another? Take some time and reflect on your life and consider what God is up to in your life and our world.

The Bible reminds me that my life is brief - like a vapor. Kind of like your breath on a cold morning - vanishing is just a moment. Since this is the truth, we would do well to stop long enough to gain a new perspective as the new year is fast approaching.

I want God's perspective on my life.

I want God's best for those I love the most and even those I don't know.

I want to see God work in this world in a way that people would be amazed by his grace.

I want to experience life like I never have before.

I want to make people smile, to bless others, to forgive, be a grace giver!

I want to laugh out loud as much as possible.

I want to jump in the mud and play in the rain. Jesus said that must be like child. hmm :)

What do you want?

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21 - The Bread of Life

Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means "bread of heaven". It was appropriate that our Savior was born in this city, because he is the "bread of life". Jesus alone will satisfy the hunger in our souls. He will quinch the great hunger of the world and we have in this life. When Jesus came to this earth he came to give people taste of heaven. He knew that people were tired and hungry for the real thing and he delivered. Stale bread is awful and so is stale religion!
Most of the time are statisfied with some far less than what we are offered in a relationship with the Lord. We are too willing to have our palets layered with the things of this world that will always leave us wanting. What are you satisfied with? What are you allowing your life to be feed with?

Feast on the Lord, his Word, and his will.

Futher Reading:
Luke 4:4; John 6:25-40

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20 - Where is Your Post?

This past week while we were on our mission trip in New York City, we were involved in servant evangelism. Servant evangelism has been a practice of The Journey Church since the church was started some seven years ago. This has been a way for them to love the city and also provide the individuals information about the church. We were able to hand out cards and granola bars to nearly twenty-four thousand people. Over the next few weeks and months the church will most certainly see first time visitors from the cards we were able to distribute and some of them will pray to receive Christ as Savior. In fact, this past month the church saw thirty first time decisions from their faithful work in the city. is was great to be a part of the ministry this church is doing in NYC.

This past week were were in five different locations throughout the city. These different sites were our mission posts for the week. We would gather our material and then head our to ministry site to serve the people of NYC with the love of Christ. Now let me ask you a question. Where is your mission post? Where has God placed you to be a light for Him? When Christ came to earth he displayed the love of God in a radical way. God is call us to do the same. Are you and I daily serving the people around us and helping further the kingdom of God in our own zip-code?

Further Reading:
2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 17 - Christmas Giving or Getting

I was looking through my Charlie Brown comic book again the other day and noticed a very thought provoking one written back in the late 60's. Linus is asking what we mean when we ask if someone had a "good" Christmas, so I began to wonder myself about this idea that Linus had brought up. What is a good Christmas to you? Is it the number of gifts you receive? Is it how big your bonus is?
The Bible helps us see that the it is more blessed to give than to receive. Giving is the nature of the Gospel. Jesus gave his life. Jesus gave his all. What are we giving this year? How are you giving your life away? Are you serving those around you? Do you give the gift of time to those you closest to you?

"the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom form many."
Matthew 20:28

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15 - On Display

In the person of Jesus Christ, God the Father was on display. Tonight our NYC mission team will have the privilege of seeing the Broadway musical The Lion King. I have heard that the costumes are amazing and even demand applause. The characters of the musical are brought to life by the creative and elaborately designed costumes. The actors and actresses wear these stunning costumes in hopes of bringing the crowd into each moment on the stage.
When God sent his Son Jesus he was displaying himself to his people. God the Father was on display and was helping people relate to himself. In Jesus, the Father was expressing his love for people and drawing them to himself. Scripture tells us that if the Son is lifted up, that he will draw all people to himself.

This Christmas consider how the Lord is expressing his love for the people of the world and as he is exalted others will in fact be drawn to him!

Further Reading:
John 3: 22-36
John 12: 20-36

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 13 - Slow Down

I have been in New York for about a day and the pace is crazy. We have been all over the city and our team of 14 handled the subway with ease. People are going and coming all hours of the day and night, but when I read the the Christmas story there is a slower pace. We celebrate the Savior that has been born, crucified, and has risen. We have the benefit of being on the other side of the story, but for those who first heard the news, there was a different pace for them. The Lord was to be born, but took 9 months for this to occur, the shepherds did not take the subway to the manger, and wise men did not jump on a jet. We hustle around and forget to slow down long enough to really enjoy the season and the moments we experience during Christmas.

Make an intentional decision to slow down and enjoy reading the stories of Christmas. Allow the Lord to use the moments with an old friend to bring the joy of Christmas home to you. Take time with your family and truly be present with them, rather than just thinking they will always be around.
Take a slower pace and drink deep from the Well that will not run dry!

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11 - A Common Christmas

We like the flash and the pizazz of Tinsel Town but there was no glitz that first Christmas. A common family in a very common town had the Christ child in very common place - a stable. The baby was given a common name and lived not the life of privilege but a very common life of a carpenter. He worked with hands and made his living with wood. In the end he did his greatest work as he spread out his hands and hung on a wooden cross for the sins of the world. Jesus lived a common life and died a criminal's death - but all this was extraordinary.

You see, it seems that God is not caught up in the glitz and glamour of Broadway, rather he does his greatest work in the common every day experiences each of us have. The Father does his work in our lives in a way that reminds that we all sought after by the risen Carpenter from Bethlehem. They call him Jesus. Yes, Jesus is his name.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 10 - The Way of the Humble

I have always been intrigued with the shepherds. They were unknown and not even considered worthy of anything religious. Yet they were given the blessed words that the Savior had been born. No one thought the announcement of Christ's birth would be proclaimed to some lowly shepherds. I like this because it lets me know that it is not important to be known by the world as much as it is to be known by the Lord. This also seems to indicate that God does not play favorites. God is not interested in who we are as much as we know we are his. Are you known by God? Are you pursuing greatness or to just follow after Him? May the Lord trust us with His words as walk humbly with Him.
"Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:11

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 8 - Christmas & Faith

I love this from the writer of Hebrews:
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
This is what the ancients were commended for."
Hebrews 11:1-2
When I read the Christmas story I am struck by the faith each character displays. They hear what the angel has to say and simply trust them to be true. They know that the messiah is coming, but they do not know how and yet they believe. Mary and Joseph have the faith to believe. The shepherds have the faith to believe. The wise men have the faith to believe. Do I? Do you?
When God speaks to you do you believe what he is saying? First of all, we must hear from the Lord. Are you putting yourself in a position to hear from God? God speaks to in all sorts of ways. I have never heard him audibly, but he does speak to me in his Word, in books, and sermons. God reveals himself to us in our daily experiences we have and in the midst of our daily obedience. The real question is am I willing to believe and then act on what God has to say when he does speak.
This Christmas begin cultivating an ear for the Lord. You will simply be amazed at what you hear.

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7 Jesus Brings Life

We enjoy a lot of fun during the Christmas season and I just love it. I have great memories of wonderful times with my family and friends. When I lived in Virginia I always wanted it to snow. I think we only had one Christmas snow, but the anticipation surrounding the season was a great part of the fun. As a child I remember thinking that Christmas would never come, but so glad when it did.

These memories are great, but we must remember that Jesus came to bring life to our soul. This does not mean that our childhood experiences are rendered unimportant, just that they are not why Jesus came. Jesus came to conquer death so that we might experience life in him. I love what that the angel said, " he will be called Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." This bring life. All the tensile in the world can't bring life. You can get more and more under the tree, but if you don't have Jesus, you don't have life.

"I am the way and the truth and the life." Jesus
John 14:6

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 6 - The Beginning of Something Real

What did that first Christmas accomplish?
It is kind of hard to consider what exactly the first Christmas was like, because obviously I have only experienced Chirstmas since then. But I would think that it must have been quite amazing to hear those first words that the promised Messiah was coming. I know that it was challenging and terribly frightening for many, but that first Christmas was magnificent in that God the Father put on a face. He put a face on his love for his creation. How great is it that God came in the form of a man and came to display his love for us.

Remember this: At Christmas we celebrate that God took the initiative in having a relationship with us.

What was different about Jesus than the popular religion of his day?
The religion of Jesus' day did more to keep others out than to help them find a way in. In fact, even the first disciples found in hard to understand that in the person of Jesus they were seeing the Father. The Father was in Jesus and Jesus was in Him. Jesus was authenticating the love and character of the Father in person.

Remember this: At Christmas we cebrate that Jesus was a visible expression of the Father in every way!

How can you and I keep our faith fresh each day?
The truth is we will never keep our faith real each day if don't take time to spend time with the Lord. The sad truth is, if we do not take our relationship with the Lord seriously, the Christmas story will just be another stale story we have heard over and over again. Now, I don't want this and I am sure that you don't either, so take some time daily to spend with the Lord.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 5 - Speaking of Hope

So, I wonder what it must have been like on that wonderful night when the angel appeared to Mary? What must it have been like to bring this great news to her? We can only imaging what went on in heaven before the angel come with the great news. Was their great anticipation? Did the Father send for the angel in order to make the message was clear? Did all of heaven look down in amazement at the thought of Jesus being born? These questions and more, simply make us wonder what was going on in heaven that awesome night.
I do know it was great news and brought hope to all. Jesus, the promised Messiah, would save his people from their sins. The great message was that Jesus was in fact coming to fulfill the great prophecies of old. Decade after decade the people had been waiting for the promised coming of the Holy One, the Savior. Now the news of his coming was now being broadcast. Hope was spoken out loud that night.
Speaking of hope... We have the same opportunity when we share our personal encounter with Jesus. To share our faith story, means that we share why we personally follow Jesus and simply who Jesus is. Jesus is our Savior. When was the last time you shared this with someone?

Let me encourage you to take time to share the good news of Jesus with a family member or coworker during this Christmas season. This is one time of the year that we have a great opportunity to share the reason for the hope we have.

Just share the Christmas story and what it means to you!

Reading: Luke 1:46-55

Friday, December 4, 2009

December 4 - The Favor of God

"I long to see God do work in and through my life. Probably much like you do. In fact, it is more than likely similar to most people who are walking with Christ. We want God to bless us and want to experience the favor of God. I have prayed for God's favor and maybe you have as well, but what if we really don't understand the favor of God.

Consider Mary the mother of Jesus. The angle of the Lord came to Mary and told her that she was "highly favored" and that she would give birth to Jesus. Now this was a blessing to her, and yet she was completely pure knowing no man intimately. The birth for her would mean public scorn and family disgrace. The whole situation threw Joseph for a loop and thus he nearly divorced her, but was given wisdom in a dream to follow through with the upcoming marriage. To put it lightly the situation was muddled and very hard to handle. In short the favor of God in the lives of Mary and Joseph brought pain.

Are you ready for this when you ask for the favor of God? Am I? Consider this as you pray for God's work your life. When you pray for God's favor just know that it just might be painful and present you with challenging circumstances. Remember when God works in our lives or through our lives the stakes are often high and the road can be terribly challenging.

"Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Luke 1:28
Further Reading:
Luke 1:26-38

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 3 - Hope Is In The Air

I love that Christmas most often stirs within us a deep sense of hope. There is something about this time of the year that I find to be most hopeful but this is not a new emotion for this season. In fact when the prophet Isaiah recorded his great words of prophecy concerning the arrival of the promised deliverer- the Messiah, the people were in captivity. Isaiah wrote of a great light!

How great is the gift of light when we are in darkness? I think of someone coming home and seeing a light that has been left and it brings sense of hope. Personally, I can remember traveling home from college and a light being left on for me when I arrived at the house. I also remember when I would go hunting with my dad and as it got dark I remember being scared. Oh, how the light of my dad's flashlight would bring a sense of peace to the unsettled spirit in my young heart.

When was the last time you were in the dark and light was provided to help you in the matter? Now, it really can be in any type of situation. But one great truth we see readily during this season is simply: Jesus is the light of the world and he longs to be light for each of us. Since Jesus is portrayed as the light of world tells me that he comes to bring hope to the world.

Reflect on this thought over the next few days: the fact that Jesus came to bring hope to the world. If the present reality is bleak or uncertain for you then know that it does not have to be the final definition of your finances, your marriage, or your career. Jesus is hope for you and for me. I need to know this and maybe just maybe you do to.

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of shadow of death a light has dawned."
Isaiah 9:2
For further reading:
Isaiah 9:1-7

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 2 - God in Person

I truly enjoy the comic strip Peanuts. In 1958 Charles Schulz penned one of his famous comics where Charlie Brown is writing a note to Santa Claus in order to inform Santa of all the things he wants on Christmas day but in the note there is a hint of frustration. The note ends with two frames that say,
"It would be so much easier to talk to you in person.
Do you think maybe we could have lunch some time?"

One of my favorite truths of Christmas is that God came to show His love for us in the form of a person. Jesus is God in person. God with a face on. Jesus put a face on the Father and displayed for all to see what the love of God looks like in real life. As Christians, we have the privilege of relating to Jesus as a real person. Friends, how awesome is it that we have the opportunity day in a day out to talk to God in person? We don't have a dead Savior, "No!", rather we have a risen one that desires to daily minister to us and through us! Are you making the most of this opportunity? Take some time daily to enjoy a simple conversation with Jesus.

"The virgin will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"
- which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:22

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 1

I hope that you are preparing your heart for what God will show you during this Christmas season. Often we go through the familiar motions of the season and miss what God is longing to communicate to us. When we get lost in the familiar we miss out on the fresh new mercies of the Lord that new every morning. May this Christmas season be as fresh as the morning frost in the cool early morning. The truth of the Christmas story is never old rather it is a grace that we have the privilege of enjoying each new day!

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21