52 Weeks (Week 9)

This week as we continue memorizing the last verses of Romans 8, we take a look at Romans 8: 31-32.  As we have mentioned, these last verses of chapter 8 in Romans are so encouraging, some hopeful, just so good.  Listen to what we see here in 31-32:

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

66982We see here this reminder.  If God is for us, then who can be against us?  If God is on our side, pulling for us, calling us, leading us, pushing up, then what in the world do we have to fear?

Nothing.

If God is for us, then who can be against us?

No one.

This is how much God loves us.  He loves us so much that He didn’t even spare His son so that we can know life and know life eternal.  So how much more will He be with us and for us in all things?  All things.

Today, no matter who you face, no matter what trials come your way.  No matter what is happening, hear this.

No really.  Listen.  Listen to this.  Know this to be true.  Because it is.  It is really and truly true.

God is for you.  God is on your side.  He is.  He really is.  No matter what happens today, God is for you.  No matter what happens today, God is on your side.

Trust that today.

God is for you.  Don’t lose hope!

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!

52 Weeks (Week 7)

66982This week in our 52 Weeks, 52 Verses, we get one of my absolute favorite verses in all of Scripture, this is one of those verses that I’ve built my life around.  This is one of those verses that gives you hope, gives you confidence no matter what you are facing.

If this year of memorizing the Bible does anything, it’s for weeks like this and verses like this.  This is one of those that you need to hide close to your heart, and pull out when you need that hope.

Listen to and learn Romans 8:28:

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

All things work together for good for those called according to His purpose.  All things.  Here is the hope that this vese gives me.  All things in life, the bad, as much (maybe even more so) and the good work together for our good, if we are called to God’s purpose.

What does that mean?  First, it means this.  God has a purpose. God has a plan. And while we have free will within that, God is at work, guiding, calling, challenging, pushing, prodding.  God is at work in all things, to bring something good out of it. God has a plan that is bigger than our human choices.

Now, I don’t understand that and am not going to claim to.  But I know it’s true.  God has a plan and a purpose.

And for those of us that love Him, all thing will work according to that plan.

All things.  They will.

So, today, trust.  God is at work in all things, for His purpose.  And for our good.  In all things. He really is.

Memorize this one today. Write it on your heart.  Write it on your soul.  Cling to it.  For all things will work for our good.  And for His purpose.

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!

Yes That’s the Book for Me

When reading the Bible, I often think back to something one of my favorite professors in seminary used to always say.  Dr. Knick used to say – “The two questions we must ask ourselves the most in our readings of scripture are this.  First, is it true?  And second, if it is true, what does it mean to my life?”

I think on those questions quite often in my reading, in my teaching, and in my preaching.  Is it true?  And if so, what does it mean to my life?  I thought about those questions today when I read the passage for today in 2 Timothy 3: 14-17:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Mens-Bible-StudyAll Scripture is breathed out by God, and for teaching, to show us the right way, as well as the wrong way that we should not walk down.  It is there to prepare us for salvation and to equip us for the calling that we have in Jesus.

It is there to reveal God to us, show us His heart, His way, His plan, His salvation, His purpose.  If we want to know God, we have to spend time with His written Word.  Let me say that again.  If we want to know God fully (and correctly) we have to, we must, spend time in His written Word.

Do I understand it all?  No, I do not.  But that’s ok.  Maybe this is simple and naive, but scripture was not given for me to understand it all, but so that I could order and build my life around it.  It was given so that I can better know God, better know my calling, better know my need for God and better know how He would have me to live.

We teach out children these things.  And we should remember these things in adulthood.  Remember that old song you may have learned as a child?  The B.I.B.L.E., yes that’s the book for me?

The older I get, the more I believe that to be true.  As John Wesley said – give me that book.  I need it for my growth, for my faith, for my life, for my church, for my family, for my very soul.  If I want to know God, I’ve got to be spending time with His book.

I heard a preacher say this summer at a Camp Meeting – “God will never know God’s unknown will unless you know His known will (i.e. the Bible).”

Today, if you want to know God, you’ve got to be in the Bible. What a precious gift God has given us.  May we drink in deep the waters of Holy Scripture.

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!

Pinterest Perfect

unnamedI’ve had a couple of people ask me if I would write a post about my sermon I preached this past Sunday at Asbury about marriage. If you missed it, you can listen to the podcast here. I called this message Pinterest Perfect.

There are studies that show the more time we spend on social media, the sadder and more depressed we become. Why? Because we measure measuring what we deem to be our imperfect lives against the pictures, status, tweets, and pins of other’s lives. Our lives don’t measure up to others Pinterest Perfection. By the way, take some time to enjoy “Pinterest Fails” You’ll be entertained for hours.

We do the same thing with marriage. We try to Photoshop it. We try to make it appear to be perfect, when it isn’t. Marriage is never, ever perfect. It just isn’t. It’s the union of two imperfect, broken people. We pretend our marriages are perfect and amazing and strong because, as Christians, that’s what we have to do, right? We can’t have problems or failings or weakness. We say we put Christ in the center of our marriage, but we don’t understand what that means. To have Christ in the center of our marriage doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. We will still face temptations and fights and tough, tough times. But it does mean that we have something to stand upon and hold on to when tough times come.

Most of what we get about marriage we don’t get from the Bible, we get from culture. The notion of perfection. Or fair tales. Of happily ever after. That doesn’t actually happen in the real world, nor in the Bible. So, what does the Bible say about marriage?

First, it says that marriage is the first institution created. Before the church. Before government. Before anything else, marriage came first. And because of this, for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife. This means that the relationship between husband and wife must come first before all other relationships. Before parents, children, friends, everything. Not that those relationships are bad, they aren’t. They are good. But the marriage relationship has to be our primary one.

But here’s the other thing. Culture has taught us that our marriage is about happiness and fulfillment. It’s not. Your spouse will never make you happy. Hear me again. Your spouse will never make you happy. They will never fulfill you; they will never complete you. They can’t. They are broken and human like you. The only person that will make you happy, complete, and content is Jesus.

So, the key to marriage, as Paul tells us in Ephesians 5: 22-33 is not seeking our will and own way, but in a mutual submission. Wives submitting to husbands, husbands laying down their life for their wife. That passage is not about one “side” being in control, but about both sides, husband, and wife, valuing the other more than ourselves.

Every problem in marriage is solved by us honestly and completely putting our spouse ahead of ourselves.

That type of marriage is not Pinterest perfect. But it is authentically real. And that’s what the world needs. Not Christians being pretend perfect. But real, broken and chasing after 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!

52 Weeks (Week 6)

66982Today in our week 6 of 52 Weeks, 52 Verses, we learn the rest of Psalm 121.  Look at that!  Over the course of these last four weeks, we’ve learned a Psalm. Memorizing the Bible is a process, something that is not done overnight, but something done consistently, with prayer, reflection, and study.

Today, listen to the end of Psalm 121, verse 7-8:

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

The Lord will keep us.  Think about that for a second.  Our security, our hope, our peace, it doesn’t come from human hands or human elements.  But from the Lord God of Hosts.  Thing about that.  Take this passage seriously.  Meditate upon it.  Think upon it. Focus upon it.

The Lord is your keeper.  He will keep you from all evil.  He will keep your going and your coming.  Now, and forever.

Don’t worry.  Don’t stress.  Don’t fret.  Don’t be overwhelmed.

The Lord is your keeper.

Rest in the knowledge.  Rest in that promise 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!

Simplify

data_rooms_to_simplify_due_diligence_process-resized-600I like things that are simple.  The older I get, the more I really want things to be simple so that I can understand; see the big picture, a see what is really at the heart of the matter.  Simplicity is a good, good thing.

We often look at the Bible, look at issues of faith, and think that they can be too confusing. They are too complicated. They can’t really be understood.  And there are many, many things in the Bible, many things in faith that are hard to understand. One of the things that we can struggle the most to understand is this. What does it mean to be a Christian?  What does the Christian life look like, what are we supposed to do as Christians.

Paul in the book of Galatians spends time going to the heart of the matter for the Christian faith.  He really wants to simplify the understanding of what the Christin life should be.  Look at what he writes today in Galatians 5: 13-14:

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Yep.  That’s a good, simple word.  He gets to the heart of what the Christian life should look like in regards to how we are to treat others.  Love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the laws about how we are supposed to treat each other, all these things, they are simplified here.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

That’s it. That’s the heart of the law. That’s the heart of the faith.  As Jesus reminded us, the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all of our mind, our soul and strength, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

That’s the heart of what this whole Christianity thing is about.  Love God. Love neighbor.  That’s the Gospel, that’s the law, that’s the faith, simplified.

Today, don’t worry about the complicated things that you can’t understand. Focus on this.  Love God.  Love neighbor. The rest will take care of itself.

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!

52 Weeks (Week 5)

As we walk together through 2015, we are memorizing the Word of God.  Each week we are memorizing a different passage.  Today we continue memorizing Psalm 121 looking at verses 5-6.  Listen to what this passage says:

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

66982Here’s what I love so much about that passage.  The Lord is your keeper.  He is your shade.  He will keep you safe in the day and the night.  God will keep you.  He will guide you.  He will protect you.

He will be your God.

Trust.  Your safety and protection, it comes from nowhere else but God.  Man oh man, this is one of those passages that I’ve loved for so many years.  It’s one of those passages that I’ve allowed to really go deep into my heart.

I don’t have to be afraid.  I don’t have to worry.  I don’t have to fear.

Because the Lord is my keeper.

And He is yours.  Trust.  Lean on Him.  He will keep you.  He will.

Trust.

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!

52 Weeks (Week 4)

66982Here at Asbury, we are in the midst of our 52 Weeks, 52 Verses.  In 2015 we are going to be learning a different verse of the Bible each week, and over the course of the year, together we will come to a deeper and fuller understand of God’s word.

As we take time to memorize it, God’s Word becomes a deeper part of our heart and we are able to call upon it in times of need.  It just becomes part of faith; part of us.

This week we are learning the next portion of Psalm 121.  This week we learn Psalm 121:3-4:

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

In the Bible times, the night was a scary time.  It was a time of fear, a time when bad things happen, when robbers were out when dangerous animals were on the prowl.  There were many Christian prayers that we have from these times which have the sole purpose of thanking God for surviving the night.

So with the night being so scary, how comforting is it to hear the words of this Psalm.  The Lord neither slumbers nor sleeps.  He is awake.  He is aware.

He is protecting you.

He is with you.

So, sleep easy.  Because God is with you.  Don’t be afraid.  The Lord neither slumbers nor sleeps.  He is present and He is watching.

Have no fear.

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!

52 Weeks (Week Three)

66982At Asbury this year, we are taking part our in 52 Weeks, 52 Verses challenge. Each week of the year, we are memorizing a different Bible verse. As we learn the Bible together as a church this year, I know, we know that God will bring us closer to Himself and show us more and more of who He is.

I heard a preacher say recently, if we don’t know God’s known will (the Bible) then we will never know His unknown will. If we want to know what God wants for us, calls us to, we need to listen and learn His word!

The passage for this week is the first of three weeks that we will spend memorizing Psalm 121. This week is verses 1-2:

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

This is a Psalm that the people would sing as they went up to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is on the top of a mountain, so no matter where you came from, north or south, you when “up” to Jerusalem.

So, we lift up our eyes to the hills, from where our help comes. Up the hills reminds of God, because God was associated with the temple and Jerusalem.

And our help comes from God, who made heaven and earth.

We look up. And looking up, we are reminded that God is our help. God is our savior. God is our strength. God is our hope.

Today, look up. Look up. Your help comes from God. The maker of Heaven and Earth.

Look up. And you will find your help in God, no matter where you are!

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!

52 Weeks (Week Two)

66982In Week Two of our 52 Weeks, 52 Verses, our verse for this week is Matthew 9:13. This is on of those verses that can really change the way that we look at God, ourselves, and other people. Take time this week to think about it, pray about it, and listen to what God wants to say to you through this verse.

Listen to what it says:

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Two things pop out to me when I read this passage.

First God says that He desires mercy, not sacrifice. That’s what God wants from us in our dealings with others. Mercy. This week, as we memorize this verse, will we make an effort to show mercy?

Mercy is something that is not deserved. We are merciful to folks that don’t deserve it, that may not even want to be merciful to. God shows us mercy, undeserved.

Let’s show that same mercy to someone this week.

Second, Jesus said I came for sinners. Jesus came to help the weak, the sick, the sore. When you feel like God can’t love you because of what you’ve done, remember this.

It was you He came to save.

This week, as we memorize this verse, let’s think about these 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!