Why We Rejoice

One of the great blessings in life is to celebrate the ways that God works and moves.  Sometimes, in our bid to stay humble, we can forget to give testimony to what God has done.  Now, we do want to be careful, making sure that God gets the glory for whatever good happens in life, but we need to stop and realize what God has done.

It says in Revelation 12:11 the devil is defeated by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony.  In our lives, we should, as often as we can, stop and testify and thank God for what He has done and is doing.

So today in our text, something surprising happens.  Listen to what we see in Luke 10: 17-20:

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

shutterstock_86099122-1Jesus said, yes, all these great things happen. You have authority to do so many things.

But don’t rejoice because of that.  Rejoice because your name is written in heaven.  We don’t rejoice today because of what we’ve done.  Or what God has done through us.  We don’t rejoice because of any of these things.

We rejoice because we are His.  We rejoice because He has given us life, life now, and life for all eternity.  We rejoice because we know the source of our life and our hope.

We rejoice because God has made us His very own.

Our identity is not found in what we do.  Our identity is found in who we are.  We are His.  That’s where our joy comes from.

May we never forget that!

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Keep on Moving

One of the things that I know most about faith is that we are going somewhere.  We are on the move.  We have a direction and a purpose.

Now that somewhere, in time, is heaven.  Yes.  One day, for those of us that believe, we will cross over into eternity and we will forever be with the Lord.  That’s something to hope in, believe in, and rejoice in.

But that’s not just what I’m talking about it.  Listen to what we read today in Hebrews 6: 1-3:

Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God, instruction about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And we will do this, if God permits.

Summer_Palace,_Beijing-StairsWe are going on to perfection.  Woah.  That’s scary.  We don’t like the sound of that.  Perfection?  None of us are nowhere near that!

And you know what?  That’s exactly true.  None of us are anywhere near perfection. But just because we aren’t anywhere near it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be moving towards us.  We aren’t perfect.  That’s right.  But you know what?  We are working to be faithful.  And that’s always the first step, the first key.

And second, we have to understand that.  What does it mean to be perfect?  Well, let me ask you this, what is the point of our faith?  What are we after?  What are we doing?  We are seeking to, by His grace, to be more like God.

And what is God?  Holy and Love.  That’s His character.  So, how does Jesus tell us to be like Him?  Well, He says the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all that we are, and love our neighbor as ourselves.  That’s what true obedience looks like.

That’s what true holiness looks like.

That’s what perfection looks like.  John Wesley didn’t talk about perfect in action.  He talked about perfect in love.

That’s what we are chasing. That’s what we are after.  Perfect, in love.

Today, let’s keep moving.  Let’s keep being faithful.  Let’s keep working.  Let’s keep growing.  Let’s keep trying to be perfect in love. And let’s see what God does with it!

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Doubting and Remembering

Today’s reading is one that we have heard preached from many, many times.  It’s the Great Commission, Jesus’ command to the Disciples and to His church to go out and make disciples of all nations.

Today, listen to what He says to them, and see if some of the same things pop out to you today that popped out to me.  Listen to Matthew 28: 16-20:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

_bibleYou know what one of the first things I saw was?  This – they worshiped Him, but some doubted.  Ok, let’s think about who these “some” where. They were the Disciples. The very ones that had walked with Him, that had seen so very much, and were looking at Him, the resurrected Christ, in their midst.

They were also the very ones that Jesus was going to deploy into mission. They were going to be big, huge, things for Him.

And with all that, some of them still doubted, at that moment.

Just because you have doubts, or struggles, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t seen God, that you don’t know God, or that God won’t use you.  Doubt is often a part of faith; we struggle, we believe, we grow.

You never grow if it’s always easy.  Sometimes you have to go through the tough times before you can really grow. They doubted.  Jesus was going to use them in a huge way in a matter or days.

Today, if you doubt, hold onto Jesus even more tightly. He won’t let go of you. He won’t.  Hold on.

And one last thing, Jesus said this, Remember,  I am with you, even to the end of the age.  He told them to remember He was with them. Because at times, they may forget.  Don’t. Don’t forget.  Hold on.  Hold on tight to Him.

And remember.  Remember He is with us, always.  Always.   Don’t forget that.  You’ll be tempted to forget.  Remember even more deeply.

He will never leave or forsake, even when we struggle.  Because He loves us.  Never forget.

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Why We Don’t Worry

One of the things that we see so often in scripture is this.  As Christians, we are called to be different from the world.  Not perfect in all things, but different.  There’s got to be something different about us from the world; from the culture; from where we are live.

We just have to be different.  Different in action, different in thought, different in purpose.

We see it in the Old Testament with the Levitical laws.  We see in the Prophets with the call to treat others fairly.  We see it in Paul’s works with the call to live not by the law, but by grace.  And we see it in the Gospel with Jesus’ command to follow Him.

Listen to what He tells us today in Luke 12: 29-31:

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.  For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

Don't_worryJesus tells us, don’t worry about what you are going to eat, or drink, or wear.  Why?  The nations of the world worry about these things.  But your Father knows that you need them.

He’s not saying that these things are bad.  He’s saying this – the Father knows you need food and drink and clothing.  He knows this. And He will take care of you.  He will.

The Father will meet your needs.  He will. This is why we don’t worry.

Listen. The Father will take care of you.  He will.  Don’t worry about those things.  God will provide.

And here’s what happens when we don’t worry about that.  We can focus on what really matters. God’s kingdom.  His will.  His plan.  His purpose.  His love.

When we don’t worry about those things (that God will provide) we can focus on the one thing that really matters.  God.

So, today, don’t worry about those things. God knows that you need them.  He will provide.  Focus on Him and His kingdom.  And all will be well.

That’s why we don’t worry.

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All Good Things

If it is good in your life it is from God.  We need to understand that  If it is in your life, and it is good, it is from God.  Everything good in our lives is from God.  Everything.  Listen to James 1: 16-18:

Do not be deceived, my beloved.Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

6a010535724f84970b011168382f7a970cDon’t be deceived is how James starts this off.  Know the truth.  If it’s in your life, and it’s good, it’s from God.  Know that.  Every good gift is from God.  All good things.

That doesn’t just mean the stuff in our lives.  That’s means laughter.  That means friendship.  That means a beautiful sunrise.  That means a good job.

That means the fact that you woke up today.

That means that fact that you can read this is.

Your coffee.  Your lunch.  Your family.  Everything.

If it is in your life and it’s good, it’s from God.  Know that.  Remember that.  And be thankful.

We have so much today to be thankful for.  Today, remember those that grieve.  That hurt. That are in need.  That need God’s grace, comfort and consolation.

Be that grace today.  Today, you be that good gift.  You be that means of grace.  You be that salt and light.  You make that difference.

All good things come from God.  May we give thanks to God for those good things in our lives.  And may we be that good thing for someone else.

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Know Thyself

il_fullxfull_362628416_71qyOne of the best things in the world that we can do is know ourselves.  Know our strengths.  Know our weaknesses.  There’s an old saying – Know Thyself. That’s a good thing. Because when we know ourselves, we know what to be on the lookout for.  What are things that could cause us trouble.

What are the things in our lives, in our past, in our present, that could trip us up?  Tempt us?  Cause to get ourselves in trouble? Do we know ourselves?

One of the things I really believe is that the Bible is the revelation of God’s truth for us, it points us to Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith. But it also points us for how to live, and for is just true.  The Bible points us over and over again to truth.  In fact, that old saying really be better understood in the light of James 1: 12-15:

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

James tells us, when you are lead into tempted, don’t say – God is tempting me.  Know where your temptations come from.  Within us.  Our flesh.  Our desires.  Our stuff.

That’s why we have to know ourselves.

What tempts you?  Where are you weak?  Where are you easily knocked off course.  Where does trouble come for you?

When you know where your weak spots are, you’ll know where to be on the watch.  You’ll know what to avoid. Where to be careful.

We aren’t all tested by the same thing. We have different weak spots.  Different temptations.  Different struggles.  Different histories. Different everythings.

What tempts me may not tempt you, and vice versa.  But I need to be aware of what tempts me.

That way I can (1) avoid it and (2) guard my heart against it when it can’t be avoided.  When I know myself, and you know yourself, we can (through God’s grace) better stand.

Today, what tempts you?  What is it that gets you?  Know that, and be aware.  And, when we know our weakness, we have a better shot of being faithful.  We have a better chance of being salt and light!

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When God Has Other Plans

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Sometimes there are things that we really want to do; things that we really believe that we should do.  Things that may even be good things.  Noble things.  Even important things.  But they aren’t what God wants us to do.

Sometimes there are things that we really want to do; things that we really believe that we should do.  Things that may even be good things.  Noble things.  Even important things.  But they aren’t what God wants us to do.

And that can be frustrating for us.  That can make us even doubt sometimes.  Come on, this is a good thing; an important thing.  Why can’t I do it?

Listen to what happens today in Luke 8: 38-39:

The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

fai-13-gods-perfect-planJesus healed this man, brought him back to life.  Brought him back to wholeness and completeness.  And all he wanted to do was follow Jesus.

Wow, what a great story!  Now this man who Jesus healed will follow Him and become a disciple.  Wow, that’s awesome!

But that’s not what happens.  He goes to Jesus and wants to go with Him.  And Jesus says no.  He had other plans.  Instead of following along with Jesus, the man was to go to his own hometown, and tell everyone what had happened.

Jesus had other plans.  It wasn’t that the man’s plans were bad or wrong.  But Jesus had other plans.

What do we do when God has other plans?

We trust.  We know that God’s plans for our lives are better than our dreams for our lives.  If God says no to something that we want to do; even a good thing, it’s because He has something better in mind.  When we don’t understand, we trust.

We obey.  We don’t obey God because of what we get out of it, we obey because of what He’s done for us.  Here’s the thing, when we obey, God does amazing things through us, even if we don’t understand why or how or what.  It’s not for us to always understand, it’s for us to always trust and obey.

We are thankful.  Because here’s the thing.  God has a plan for you.  The almighty God of the universe has a plan for you.  Look what happened in this text.  This entire city heard the good news of Jesus because of this man.  Wow!

Why God’s plan for you may not be your plan for you, know this.  God has a plan for you!


Today, may we follow in that plan.

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Maybe I’m Amazed

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There was a little rock and roll band from England that I’m a fan of. You may have heard of them, I think they were called the Beatles. Love the Beatles, love their solo works after they broke up as well.

As I was reading today’s text, believe it or not, I thought of one of Paul McCartney’s songs. Maybe I’m amazed. Really? I thought of a McCartney song? Yeah, I thought of Maybe I’m Amazed.

Listen to what the Word says in Luke 8: 24-25:

They went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?”

urlThey were amazed at Jesus. Amazed. Amazed at what He did. Amazed at how the wind and waved obeyed.


And here’s my question based off of that. How about us? When was the last time that you or I was amazed at Jesus? When was the last time we took a step back and just said, wow. He is so good.

He is so strong.

He is so mighty.

Wow, our God is good.

We aren’t often amazed at God enough. We don’t lose our breath enough. We don’t tremble enough.

When was the last time that we were truly amazed at God?

It’s not that God is not amazing. It’s that we are not paying attention. Today, look around. Pay attention. Listen. Look. Pray.

Be amazed. Because God is amazing.

Today, may we be amazed at Jesus.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

As Best You Can, Live in Peace!

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We are called to live in peace with one another.  Really, we are.  We see so many passages in the Bible about loving your neighbor, doing right, being faithful, being the body, all of these things.

We are even told in the Beatitudes that blessed are peacemakers.  We are told to live in peace with one another.

But sometimes that’s hard, isn’t it?   Sometimes that’s nearly impossible.  That’s why I really like what it says today in Romans 12: 18-21:

If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

eiMAAdnKTIn as much as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.  I really love that.  As much as it depends upon you.

Now notice, though, that’s not a “get out of jail free card.”  You (and I) still have to do our part to live in peace with one another.  So, look what it says.  Don’t avenge yourself.  If you’ve been wronged, don’t worry about getting them back.

As a Christian revenge should not be in our vocabulary.

In fact, look what the text says we should do.  We should feed our enemies. Give them something to drink.  And then it says in doing this, we heap coals upon their heads.

So, if we do these things, they will feel bad about themselves, right!  We win.  Well, not exactly.  The job of a coal in the sacrifice is to purify.  When we love our enemies, we show them God’s love. And we help them be drawn closer to God.

In as much as it depends upon us.  That doesn’t excuse us.  It doesn’t let us off the hook.  We still have to be faithful, not seek vengeance, and love.

But know this. You don’t control their response.  You only control yours.  If you have done the right thing, if you have shown grace, if you have shown mercy, and they do not desire for things to be right, you know what?

You’ve done what you can do. That’s all you can do.  Do what you can do.

You only have control of yourself.  So, in as much as you can, live in peace with others.  Do your part.  Leave the rest up to God.  And the results are not up to you.

So you can rest easy.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Who is God?

First, some housekeeping.  I send these reflections out each day as an email.  I’m changing the way that I send them out.  If you’d like to join my new email list, click here.  There were some technical problems last week that I think I should have worked out, all should be good now. Now, on to today’s reflection.

Today’s reading is just one of my favorites in the entire Bible.  I know I say that a lot. But really. This one is.  This is one of those passages that just unlocks everything for us.  Just listen to what it says in Colossians 1: 15-20:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

w8xb3kidzuon5szabbepiflyvnlBoom.  There you go.  That’s it.  Really.  That’s it.  This is one of those passages that is so key.


It tells us who God is.  Wait, what?  Yep.  This passage tells us who God is.  It says this.  Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  If you want to know God, look to Jesus.

Now, we believe in a God that is Three in One.  Trinity.  Triune.  By the way, here’s a link to a great book I’m reading that does as good a job of unpacking the Trinity as anything I’ve ever read.

But, there is something special about Jesus.  In Jesus, we see God’s heart.  We see the love of God.  The mercy of God.  The acceptance of God.  We really see in a special why who God is.  Jesus shows us who God is.

But also, we see this.  We don’t believe in just sort of a “spiritual” God.  Our culture talks a lot about God, but who is this God?  It is the God as shown to us in Jesus.

A God that forgives, but calls us to be holy.  A good that seeks the broken, and calls us all to follow Him.  A God that died for our sins, shows us the depth of His love, and rose from the dead.

A God of the cross.  Of the empty grave.  Of resurrection.  Of the destruction of sin, death, and the grave.

Jesus shows us God’s heart.  But He also shows us exactly who God is.

That’s why I love this passage.  And that’s why it matters.

It answers the question of who is God?

Jesus.  The answer is Jesus.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!