Like a Child

Sometimes when you read a familiar passage of the Bible, you’ve really got to slow yourself down and pay attention. ¬†Sometimes it’s so easy to just think, I’ve read this before, and quickly read through it, and then move on to the next passage. ¬†When we do that, we can miss that unique thing that God may want to say to us today.

For instance, one of today’s readings was like that for me. ¬†So I had to go back and reread¬†Mark 10: 13-16 several times. ¬†Listen to what it says:

13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

When I was reading today this is what jumped out to me. ¬†In verse 15, if you don’t receive the kingdom of God as a little child, you will not enter it. ¬†I just sat and stewed on that for a little bit today.

By the way, that’s one of the ways that you can really hear God’s voice in Scripture. When you are reading, what jumps out to you? ¬†What catches your eye? ¬†God back and stay there for a while. ¬†Go and listen. ¬†Keep going back to it. ¬†And listen to what jumps out. ¬†Pay attention to words. To thoughts. ¬†To ideas. ¬†To images. ¬†What pops off the page at you? ¬†That’s where God is speaking to you.

christmas-treeToday for me, it was receiving the kingdom like a little child. ¬†Know what I thought about? ¬†Christmas morning. ¬†The excitement. ¬†The joy. ¬†The anticipation. ¬†The “waking up at 3 in the morning” type of passion that every child has a Christmas Eve. ¬†The fact that you can’t wait, you can’t can’t wait, you can’t wait to get that present.

Look out work, here we come!

Our kids feel that way about Christmas, don’t they? ¬†Honestly, don’t we still?

Do we feel that way about the Kingdom?  Do we feel that way about grace, about mercy, about Jesus?

This world makes us grow up, doesn’t it? ¬†And that’s a little sad. We can lose that that joy for Jesus and His gift. This world as a way of dampening that fire.

Jesus today wants to light that fire in our hearts.

Today, you are not condemned.  You are forgiven.  You are loved.  You are treasured.  You are valued.  You are His prize, His joy, His love.

And He wants you to receive that today.  With child-like joy!

Today, may we receive His love like a child.

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In the Morning

Sometimes we are in a storm that we feel will never get better.  Sometimes the waves seem too high, the troubles seem too deep, the worries seem too much.

Sometimes there is weeping. And we feel like the weeping will never end.  It will never get better. It will never stop.  It will never change.  But know this. It will.  The weeping will not last forever.  The troubles will not stay forever.  The pain will not stay forever.

Listen to what we are told today in Psalm 30: 4-5:

4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment;
his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

urlWeeping may come in the night. But joy will come in the morning.  It will get better.  It will.

The darkness will not last forever.  When we are in the middle of it, we may think that it will never end.  We may think that it will never get better.  But it will.

You may be in pain now.  You may be in trouble now.  You may be in the middle of a storm now.  Your tears may not stop now.

We all know that feeling. ¬†We’ve all been there. ¬†It hurts. ¬†And not much makes it feel better in that moment. ¬†No matter what you may be going through, you may feel like it will never get better.

It will. ¬†Listen to God’s Word this morning. ¬†It will. ¬†Weeping may linger for the night.

But Joy comes in the morning.

Today, if you are in the night of your tears, hold on.  Morning is coming.  It is.  Morning is coming.  And joys comes then.

Hold tight to God.  He will not let you go.  And His joy will come.

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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, ‚ÄúLord, in your name even the demons submit to us!‚ÄĚ He said to them, ‚ÄúI 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.‚ÄĚ

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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Hey Y’all, It’s Monday!

mondaysHey y’all, it’s Monday. ¬†Yep, all day long. ¬†Monday. ¬†The entire day.

So, what are we gonna do with it? What will do about it?  How will we handle it?

Well, this week, it starts now. And it starts with our attitude. It starts with how we choose to look at things. It starts with what our mentality is. We can choose today to only see the problems, the issues, the worst.

Or.

We can choose to today to look for the positive. The good.  The hopeful.  The joyous. The life giving.

Today, we can choose. We can choose what Monday will be like. We can choose what this week will be like. ¬†It’s our choice. ¬†What will we do? ¬†Listen to the words of Paul today in Romans¬†8:6-8:

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Set you mind on the spirit.  On the things of God.  On what matters, what is good, what is holy, what matters.

This week is wide open ahead of you. Full of potential. Full of hope. Full of what is good.

What will you do with it?  Where is your mind today?

Focus on the good.  On the spirit.  On the holy. Focus on that.

And see what God does with it!

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A Light has Come

lightI’ve been reading and talking a lot about darkness recently. Part of was the text that I preached from Sunday was John 1, which talked about The Light coming, and how it shines in the darkness.

And the darkness has not overcome it.

Remember y’all, that darkness will not overcome the light. It’s not going to happen. Light will win in the end.

With all that’s happened in the world in the last week, it’s easy to think that the darkness is going to win.

It’s not. Light wins.

Today, we see this passage that we all know so well from Isaiah. Listen to what it says in Isaiah 9:2, 6-7:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

The people in darkness have seen a great light. Light has shown on them.

The darkness has fled. It is gone. It has vanished.

Light has come.

Well, what is this light?

Isaiah continues. To us, a child is born. A son is given. He is wonderful counselor, might God.

Prince of Peace.

He is the Lord.

He is Jesus.

No matter what darkness you are waking in today, let His light shine on you. And in you.

Maybe it’s the darkness of sadness over Newton.

Maybe it’s the darkness of worry over your own children.

Maybe it’s the darkness of depression.

Of fear.

Of worry.

Of brokenness.

No matter what darkness you are in right now, a light has come. A light as shown.
Let it shine in your life. Let it shine through your life.

Let it drive out the darkness in you. Let it shine out the darkness through you.

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.

God With Us

God with us. That’s the hope of the Christmas season. That’s the hope of really, life. God with us. God of creation, God of redemption, God of salvation.

With us. With you. With me. Today.

Listen to what God says through the prophet Isaiah today:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

That’s the miracle of Christmas. It’s a time of joy and peace. A time to spend with family and friends. A time to worship, to pray. To praise. To focus on what matters the most in our lives. To remember. To refocus. To rejoice.

Immanuel. God with us.

Think about that one simple comment for just a moment right now. There will not be a moment in your life today, a moment that passes by you right now, that God is not with you. A moment where God is not at your right hand. A moment where God is not closer than your next heartbeat.

That’s the miracle of Christmas. God entered into our world. To save His world.

Through the spirit He enters into our lives. To save our lives. And so that we can be a blessing to others.

Today, He is with you. He has not, and will not, leave your side.

Remember that. May the knowledge of His presence guide you, shape you, protect you, keep you, correct you, and encourage you.

Today, God is with us! May we never forget the message of Christmas!

Testing

I still have the dream sometimes where I am late for a test that I hadn’t studied for. And it always seems to be a calculus test. ¬†I hated calculus. Anyway, in my dream I’ve always forgotten to study and I am running late and I just know that I’m going to fail this test and it’s going to be awful.

I hate that dream.

I will wake up, thankful each time that it’s just a dream.

What a terrible feeling to have forgotten that you have a test! ¬†What a terrible feeling of impending doom. It’s a helpless feeling, one that just grips the whole of your soul.

Well, in life, we are going to have tests. And the bad thing is that they may make that calculus test look easy.  These test may be hard. They may involve sleepless night.  Tears.  Pain.  Hurt.  Doubt.  These test could be the things that try our faith and leave us shaken.

And in James, it says we should thank God for these tests.

Huh?

Yep.  James says to thank God for tests.  Listen to James 1:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

These tests we face will grow our faith. They will grow our strength. They will grow our trust. They will grow our dependence on God.

When you face a test, a real, a tough test, you can’t face it on your own. ¬†You’re not strong enough. ¬†You’re not able. ¬† You can’t do it.

But, through God, you can. Through Christ, you can do all things. Through Christ, nothing is impossible. Through Christ, you can do it.

Through Christ, you can have joy in the tests. Through Christ, you can have joy.   Through Christ, we can endure. Through Christ, we can grow.

Through Christ, we can not only take these tests. We can triumph over them.

Today, and in the future, you will have tests coming. What will you do? What will we do? Will we count it joy?  Will we use this to grow? Will we let this grow us closer to God?

We can count these tests as joy. When we turn to God in the midst of the trials, they will grow us.

May we grow closer to God today and each day.

A New Joy Podcast

The sermon podcast for Sunday, December 12 is up on Asbury Church‚Äôs¬†website. This is the third sermon in our Advent 2010 series ‚ÄúAll Things New.‚ÄĚ This is entitled ‚ÄúA New Joy‚ÄĚ and the text is Luke 1: 46-55.¬†¬†You can listen to it by clicking¬†here, or you can listen to it here on this blog by clicking below. And, as always, you can¬†subscribe to my sermon podcasts through iTunes.

 

Salvation

Sometimes in life, it’s easy to think that people are out to get us.

Sometimes when things are going wrong, it’s we can make ourselves think that forces are conspiring against us.

We can even think sometimes that God is out to get us, particularly if we feel as though we have done something wrong.

Perhaps we are being justly punished for some great sin.

God is getting us for some mistake, some failing, some misdeed.

That’s why all this is happening.

Listen to what Paul writes today in First Thessalonians:

9 For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

God has not destined for wrath.  God has not created you for destruction.

God is not out to get you. God desires you to know Him, love Him, and love each other.

That’s your purpose in being here. Nothing more, nothing less. ¬†Knowing Him, loving Him, loving each other.

Be encouraged. Be hopeful.  Be joyful.

Even if it’s bad right now, even if things are tough.

It will get better. It won’t be like this forever. It will improve. ¬†It will change. ¬†It will turn.

This is not the end of your story. ¬†Don’t give up, don’t lose hope.

God is good. And He loves you.

You were created for salvation and for life and for joy and for peace.

Don’t forget.

Remember. You’re His child and He loves you.

Today.