God With Us

One of the promises that we hear in this season is this Immanuel. God with us. And we think of that most during this time. We associate that with Christmas. We think of it Jesus. With Mary. With Joseph.

And that is the truth of Christmas. God is with us. Listen to what we are told in Matthew 1: 20-23:

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us)

God with usWe hold tight to those words. We love those words. And those words are at the heart of Christmas. But here’s the beauty of that. Those words aren’t just for Christmas. Those words are always. And forever. And for all our lives.

God is with us in this season yes. But God is with us throughout all the year. God is with us in our good times. God is with us in our bad times. God is with us in our victories. God is with us in our defeats. God is with us when we feel healthy. God is with us when we are sick.

God is with us when we are laughing.

God is with us when are crying.

That’s Christmas. God entered into our world, into our lives, into our good times, into our bad time. God entered into our world. Into our day-to-day.

To show us love. To show us grace. To save us.

That’s the truth of Christmas. That’s the truth of today. God is with us. No matter what you are facing today, good or bad. God is with you.

That’s Christmas. That’s what it’s all about. Remember that. God with you. Today. He loves you and is with you today.

No matter what. That’s Christmas.

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!

Today’s Homework Is . . . .

When was the last time you said something nice to someone? When was the last time you encouraged someone?

That doesn’t sound like much, does it? Saying something nice, or being encouraging. Doesn’t sound like much of a big deal. But it is. It really is.

We all need someone in our lives, especially at certain times, to encourage us. To say something nice to us. To help us keep on walking, to help us keep on going.

To help us believe in ourselves. Sometimes we don’t believe in ourselves. Sometimes we really don’t think that we can do it. We really don’t think that we can accomplish it.

And that’s when we need someone to believe in us. We need that, don’t we?

And, we need to be that to someone else. Someone else needs someone to believe in them. And that someone should be us. Listen to what it says today in Hebrews 10: 23-25:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

DX1We are told, let’s consider how to stir up good things in each other. Let’s figure out how to make each other better. More faithful. More obedient. More focused on God.

I need you to help me be more faithful. And you need me. That’s the way that community works. We need each other.

And then we are told to encourage one another. Help each other. Motivate each other. Impact each other.

Especially as you see the day drawing near. Especially as tough times come. We need each other.

So, today, when was the last time you encouraged someone? That’s your homework today. Say something encouraging to someone today.

And see what happens. I promise you it will be something good!

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!

When They Frustrate Us

frustrated-faceAre you ever tempted to look at someone and say – you know better! Why are you doing that? Why do you keep making the same mistakes? Come on, man, you know better than to do that!

I’m sure each of us has felt that way. We may have felt that way with our kids before. Maybe someone in our family. Or with a friend. A co-worker. Someone.

We can get so frustrated. We want to give up on them, don’t we?

What do we do then? What do we do when we want to give up someone?

Listen to what Paul tells us today in Romans 15: 1-3:

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.

Paul says this – when you want to give up one someone, remember. We don’t live for ourselves. We live to serve and help others. We don’t live for us.

It’s so easy to get frustrated with others. With their weakness. With their mistakes. With their stuff. They can really irritate us. But remember what Paul said. We don’t live for us.

We live for Jesus. And we live for others. We live to point them to Jesus. And that’s one of the keys. As Paul says, Jesus didn’t live to please Himself, He lived for His prose. To point us to His Father.

And you know, you know Jesus must get frustrated with us sometimes, huh? At our weakness. Our faults. Our mistakes. Our stuff.

And how does He respond? He loves. So should we.

He loved us in our weakness and mistakes.

We are to love to love them, in their weakness and mistakes. Because love points to Jesus. And only Jesus can help. Only Jesus can change.

Be patient. You can only do that through Jesus and His spirit. Love them. Point them to Jesus.

And let Him change them. That’s not your job. That’s His job. Let Him do His work. Your job is just to point to Him, in all things.

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!

Refreshment

There are seasons in our lives when we just feel exhausted. Or worn out. Or tired. Or just, just done. We don’t want to keep going; we don’t think that we can keep going.

We just want to quit. We feel dry. We feel like things will never change, never get better, never be different.

Ever felt that way? Feel that way now? We’ve all been there at some time. Everyone one of us had been broken and burned out at some point.

Today, we read one of my favorite passages that deals with this. It is one of those just encouraging passages. Listen to what it says today in Acts 3: 18-20:

But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,

15adc07bc50989220c76b6faa90b1d7aWhen we repent and ask forgiveness, our sins are forgiven. And times of refreshing will come. I love that phrase. Times of refreshing. Such a great concept.

Today, there is a time of refreshing that awaits you. You can rest easy. You can feel life. You can feel forgiven. You can feel new and restored.

You can know that. Through the appointed savior, that has taken away your sins. Through Jesus.

Feel that today. Seriously. Let that wash over you. Let that grace and mercy wash over you like rain. Let it drench you. Let it refresh you.

You are forgiven. Through Jesus, you are forgiven. Really. You are.

Be refreshed today. Be renewed today. Be reborn and remade today. Today, feel that refreshment. No matter how tired or beaten down you are, feel that today.

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!

Faith is Like Rebounding

20111008_Rebels_0123_800 2One of the comparisons that I’ve made many times about faith and life is this. Faith is a lot like rebounding.

Wait, what? Faith is like rebounding? Exactly.

In basketball, one of the things I always enjoyed doing was rebounding. I guess as a football player, I like the physicality of rebounding, of going for the ball, of trying beat the other guy for it. That was always my favorite part of playing basketball. Rebounding.

And I don’t know much about; there are many, much smarter basketball coaches that could tell you a ton about rebounding. But this is what I do know. It’s about positioning. It’s about getting between your guy and the ball.

If you put yourself in the proper position, something good will happen. If you put yourself in the position between your guy and the ball, you will either get the ball or your guy will jump “over the back” and foul you, and you’ll get free throws (if you are in the bonus #basketballgeek).

In other words, if you are in the right position, something good will happen. You put yourself in the right position; you will either get the ball or get fouled. Something good will happen.

And that’s how it is with faith. Do you want to hear God? Do you want to know God? Put yourself in the right position. If you put yourself in the right position, something good will happen.

It’s just like rebounding. It’s about putting yourself in the right position. Here at Asbury we talk about praying, reading your Bible and going to church. In other words, putting yourself in a position to hear God.

And He will speak. He will.

Listen to what it says today in 2 Peter 1: 5-8:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Make every effort to put yourself in the right position. Surround yourself with virtue. Knowledge. Self Control. Steadfastness. Godliness. Brotherly affection. Love.

Do these right things. Put yourself int hat position. These things don’t save you. But the strengthen you. They allow you to hear God. Don’t these things puts you in the right position.

And in doing these things, you will hear God. You will.

Faith is like rebounding. It’s about being the right position. Today, are you placing yourself in that right position. If you will, you will hear God. Today, let’s put ourselves in that position.

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!

What are You For?

When we think about the world we live in, it can be a scary place, can’t it? We can feel overwhelmed by challenges, worries, fears, doubts.

We can feel like there is much evil in the world, many things that are wrong, things are against. Things that we feel like we must speak out against and oppose. We can feel like that’s what we are supposed to do.

And, in a world full of evil, we do have to stand for what we believe. But here’s the thing, standing against evil isn’t the totality of our duty and our calling. There’s more. Listen to what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5: 11:

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.

jesus-christI don’t just want to stand against what is wrong. I want to persuade others to do what is right. I heard Tim Keller say at a lecture recently, “it isn’t just that we proclaim the Gospel, it is that we are to persuade people to follow it and love it.”

I don’t just want to be know for what I’m against.  I want to be known for what I am for.  Jesus.

Today, we are not just to be against something. We are called to be for something. I don’t want to just stand against sin (as important as that is); I want to convince people, persuade people to follow Jesus.

Well, how do we do that? First, with our lives. If we are going to convince people to follow Jesus, we have to follow Him ourselves. There must be something different about us that makes folks want to follow Him.

Second, with our love. As we love folks as He loves them, they will want to know Him. They will. They will. They will want to know this Jesus that causes others to radically love others.

Today, that’s our calling. Not just to be against the evils of this world. But to persuade others to follow our Jesus.

Today may we live, may we love. And as we do that, may we give glory to our saviour!

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!

Confidence

We all know, we all believe that we are broken vessels. We know that we are imperfect. We know that we make mistakes, that we fall, that we fail, that we all mess up.

Seriously, we know that. And it’s good for us to remember that. It’s good for us to know that we can’t do it all by ourselves. We need to learn to depend on God. To trust in His grace. To lean on His mercy.

To know that we are sinners, saved by grace.

But, that’s not all that we are. As weak as we are, we don’t stand by our strength. If we stand by our strength only, we will fall. But we don’t stand by our strength. We stand by God’s strength.

And when we stand by God’s strength, we stand with confidence. Listen to what it says today in 2 Corinthians 3: 4-6:

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

confident-childWe have great, great confidence in Jesus. We aren’t sufficient (or able) in ourselves. But we are sufficient; we are able in Him. You can do it today. Through Him, you can do it today.

No matter what it is. No matter what you face. No matter what you are dealing with you. You can do it through Him.

Have confidence. Have that trust. Have that faith. Have that hope. You can do it through Him.

Yes, your sin is great. His strength is great.

Yes, your weakness is much. His strength is more.

Yes, you feel that you can’t do it through yourself. But know. You can do it through Him.

This fact is true. As great as your sin is, the blood of Christ and the power of the empty grave, they are greater.

Today, you can confidence. Not in yourself. But in Him. Through Him, you can do all things.

Today have confidence.

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!

A New Thing

plant_new_life-1920x1200Yesterday we talked about getting out of a rut, how God is in the midst of doing a new thing. In this season of Advent, we have to ask ourselves, do we really believe that God is, doing something new?

Sunday, at Asbury, I said this – don’t give me your Christian answer; give me your real answer. Your Christian answer is what you think we have to give as good people. Your real answer is what you really think and believe.

And here’s the thing. God knows what you are thinking. God knows what you believe. God knows what’s on your heart.

So, let me ask you, do we really believe that God is going to do something new in our lives? Or do we think that things are going to always remain the same, remain as they are now? Or could God possibly do something new in our lives?

Listen to what it says today in Revelation 21: 2-5:

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

God is making all things new. All things. Me. You. All things.

You know what the new work God wants to do is? You. Me. He wants to make us new. He wants to restore us. Remake us. Change us.

Remove the dirt of the past. Remove the shame and sin of the past. Remove the brokenness of the past. Make us new.

That’s what He wants to do for you and in you today. Not just forgive you. Make you new.

Today, you can be new. You can be different. You can start over. You can begin again. You can leave the past and the old behind. You can be new.

That’s where all this is headed. That’s what God wants to do. That’s what God will do. He will make all things new.

And He wants to start today with me and with you. Today, through grace, mercy, and love, God wants to make us new.

Today, will we let Him? Will let us, through His Holy Spirit, make us new?

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!

Stuck in a Rut

Ruts are dangerous. Ruts leave us feel like we are doing the same thing, over and over again, each day. Nothing new. Nothing different. Nothing exciting. Nothing to be hopeful about.

Nothing. Every day, its same thing, over and over again.

It’s a sad thing, a bad thing, when we don’t expect anything different. Is that how you feel today? Do you enter this day, this new week, this season thinking, oh things will never change.

It is what it is. Nothing different. Nothing new. Same thing, different day. Lather, risen, repeat. Every day.

We feel like that a lot, don’t week. If that’s you, listen to what Isaiah 43: 18-19 says:

“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

God-of-New-ThingsGod says – I’m doing a new thing. Just because it’s always been the same, doesn’t mean that it will stay the same. Just because you feel stuck in a rut doesn’t mean that you will stay there. Just because things haven’t changed don’t mean that they won’t change yet.

This is the season of Advent.  In this season, that leads us to Christmas, we remember God’s promises like this one.  He is doing a new thing.  He is bringing new life.  He has great things in store.  Great new things.

Do you believe that?  Do you believe that God can still do new things?  Do you expect new things?  Do you hope in new things?  Or are we at the point in life; in faith, where we really don’t hope for those type of things any more.  We are just stuck in our rut.

God is not done with you yet. God is not done with the world yet. God is not finished with us yet. He isn’t.

A new thing is coming.

Do you believe that? Do you believe that God is in the midst of doing a new thing? He is. We stop believing that sometimes. We lose hope. We give up. We don’t think that it will happen.

Don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. God is in the midst of a new thing. He is.

He is going to make all things new. Do you believe? Keep believe. Have you forgotten? Remember what we read. Are you exhausted? Hold tight to God. A new thing is coming. It is.

God is going to do a new work in your life. Keep believing. Keep hoping. Keep knowing. He is.

No matter how strong the rut you’re stuck in is, God is stronger.

He is going to do a new thing.

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!

Idolatry?

One of the constant Biblical commands is that we should not worship idols. That’s something that we hear over and again in scripture. Don’t worship idols. Don’t bow down to them. Worship God only. Don’t worship or serve idols.

And problem, we think, man, that’s the easiest of the 10 Commandments to follow. I’ve never worshiped a false God. We don’t have a family idol. There aren’t any idols in ours home.

Sweet. I’m good.

But here’s the thing about that. Idolatry is not what we make it. It’s not about just worshiping an “idol” but, it’s about placing our hope, our security, our lives around something.

The thing that we worship is the thing that we build our lives around.

So, to ask ourselves if we are tempted by idolatry, we don’t need to walk around our home, looking for false idols. We need to ask ourselves, what do we build our lives around? Where is our hope?

Is it in God? Or something else.

Listen to what it says in Psalm 115: 1-4:

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.

Idols_2013_logoThe work of human hands. We may not have “false gods” made of human hands in our lives, but so many of the things in life that we turn to for home and security, they are things that we have made, things that we have earned, things that we can attain.

They are human in origin.

They are not God. They are made by human hands. And the will fail us.

Tim Keller said – An idol is anything that you turn to and say, “Save me.”

So today, in your life, where do you find your worth and your hope. Don’t give me the “Christian” answer, you know, the one you have to give; are supposed to give.

Where does your life say that you find your hope and your worth? If your hope and worth is in anything of this world, that thing will fail you.

If your hope and worth is in the True God of Heaven, then you have nothing to fear.

Today, what are the idols in our lives that we need to get rid up?

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!