Sunday, December 23, 2007

Does God Care For Us?

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. -John 1:14

Paul Harvey tells about the farmer who heard irregular thumping sounds against his kitchen storm door. He went over and watched as tiny sparrows beat in vain against the glass in an attempt to get to the warmth inside. The farmer bundled up and plodded through the fresh snow to get to the barn door and open it for the freezing birds. He switched on the light and threw some hay into a corner for them. But the sparrows hid in the darkness.

The man tried various schemes to get the birds into the barn, but nothing worked. They could not comprehend that he was trying to help them. Finally, the farmer returned to his house and watched the doomed sparrows with deep sorrow. He thought to himself, "If only I could become a bird--one of them--just for a moment. Then I wouldn't frighten them so. I could show them the way to warmth and safety." At that moment he also grasped the reason Jesus was born.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cultivating a Heart

I remember sitting in an evangelistic conference in Dallas and hearing the teacher say, “a desk is a poor place to view the world.” For me, it was the desk. For someone else, it may be a home. We often become comfortable in our settings and environment that we forget that God has called each of us to go and make disciples. The only way we will accomplish this task is to leave the comforts of our home and enter into the lives of so many who need to hear about Christ. How are we to relate to others unless we enter into their world: experience what they are facing and wrestle with their questions and concerns. Unless we begin to cultivate a heart for them, how will we ever have a message for them?

How do we cultivate a heart for the lost? One way to cultivate a heart for unbelievers is to understand their need. As Christians, we have experienced a new meaning of life, forgiveness, and a secured hope. As we grow deeper in our faith, we can easily forget that unbelievers have not experienced these unchanging truths that we possess. Take time to listen to their heart when they express how they feel. They are without God and attempting to make life work apart from God.

Just two weeks ago, I had an opportunity to speak with a gentleman who has experienced a tragic event in his life. His response to this tragedy was to be cautious of everyone he meets. He said, “Don, I don’t trust anyone because they will hurt you time and time again.” As I sat there listening to his story, I was reminded of the seriousness and misfortune of sin. We all have been wounded and scarred by the result of sin in this world. However, I had an opportunity to share with him that we have a Savior who came to put the power of sin to death. Though the power of sin still affects our lives daily, we can be confident that its power is only temporary. When Christ returns, He will deliver us once and for all from sin’s dominion on this earth.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.-Ephesians 2:1-10

Another way to cultivate a heat for unbelievers is to pray. If you know an unbeliever, you can pray for that individual specifically. Ask the Lord to sensitize his or her heart in order to receive and accept what is said about Christ and His work on the cross. We are not responsible for saving these individuals; we are responsible for sharing the good news with them. If you desire to reach others in your community and neighborhood, pray that God will place someone in your path. Pray right now that God will work in your life giving you a heart of awareness when you meet that person. Ask God for the wisdom that you will need to address any questions, boldness to proclaim the good news, and for a bridge to build a relationship between you and that person.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Light in a Dark World

The Apostle John uses two familiar metaphors to describe righteousness and sin. These metaphors, darkness and light, used throughout his gospel and his first epistle to demonstrate that those who walk in darkness are associated with the world and its lifestyle compared to those who walk in light in obedience to God. More than just teaching these concepts, John also uses Biblical characters to illustrate his point. For example, Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to Jesus in the night, but later identified himself with Jesus in the light at Jesus’ death (3:21; 19:38-42). On the other hand, Judas who walked with the true Light betrayed Jesus in the Garden at night (John 12:35-36; 13:30).

There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:6-13)

In the prologue to John’s gospel, he begins his message with a high Christology directing our attention to the grand entrance of the True Light, Christ. Before Christ arrived on the scene, God sent one ahead to testify to the coming of the True Light. John was the revealer of the One to come. He was not the true Light, but he was the revealer of the Light. John contrasted John to those who rejected the Light. Christ came to His own and His own chose not to receive him. He extends an invitation to any who may receive Him. Which will you become: a revealer or concealer? We have the choice to reveal the power and victory of the Gospel message to many during this Christmas season. When we choose not to share that message, we are indeed concealing it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Eternal Dividends

John’s definition of the Greek term “zoe” (life) explains that eternal life is found through the words and life of Jesus Christ. Simon Peter recognized that Jesus was the Christ stating, “…to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Jesus explains, “I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me” (John 12:50). The Word of God speaks and breathes life for it is the true source of life. Just as the physical body needs natural food for life, our spiritual body needs spiritual food for nourishment and sustenance. Not only does the Word of God breathe life into the believer, but Jesus is life. Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (John 11:25). In the Upper Room Discourse, Jesus told his disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6). John sums up his definition of life in John 17:3 “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Have you received eternal life? He offers it to you today!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Whom God Chooses

When God wants to drill a man
And Thrill a man
And skill a man;
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part.

When He yearns with all his heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways—
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects.

How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows, converts him
Into trial shapes of clay,
Which only God understands,
While his tortured heart is crying,
And he lifts beseeching hands.

How he bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes.
How He uses whom He chooses,
And with every purpose, he fuses him,
By every act, induces him
To try His splendor out.
God knows what He’s about.

Source Unknown

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hmmm.....Did I sign up for this?

Admittedly, I love the winter. There is something about the chill of cold air to the warmth of a hot cup of Starbucks on a cold day that appeals to me. However, at times, I can be a little na├»ve in my statements. Last week I mentioned to several of the church members that I would love to see a white Christmas. I believe my statement went something like this, “The temperature could even drop about 20 more degrees.” Now the temperature that day was around 30 degrees. I can only imagine how many of those individuals went home and prayed that the Lord would answer their pastor’s prayer. And it did! Yesterday, Marietta received 4 ¾ inches of snow.
I was like a little kid looking at the snow from my living room window. I took Claire, my little 8 month old, outside for a few minutes to enjoy her first snow. I was planning to build a life-size snowman until I began to freeze with the dampness in my clothes. Later that day, Nicole mentioned to me that we needed to shovel snow from the driveway and in front of the door so that the snow would not turn to ice. What??? Shovel snow?? I thought I would enjoy the snow from my window not have to get out in it and shovel our way around the home. For the first time in my life, with my feet wet and my hands cold, I shoveled snow and scattered salt.

God definitely has a way of speaking to me. Little did I know what cold temperatures and inches of snow would do for a person from the deep South?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hanging of the Greens

On Sunday, we had our “Hanging of the Greens” service at the church. I have never observed a “Hanging of the Greens” service, but I was moved by the singing of Christmas songs and the entire participation of the church. At different intervals of the service, some lit candles, others hung wreaths, but the entire congregation hung ornaments on the tree. As I sat and worshipped the Lord, the ceremony reminded me about the meaning of Advent.

Advent is a time for Bible study. Through the Scriptures we can learn how people long ago prepared for the coming of the Messiah. The Scriptures show the nature of hope that was evident through the response of God’s people, and the faith that stretched forward to reality. While the Old Testament reveals the fulfillment of these promises with the facts of his birth, the New Testament gives promises with the facts of his birth. The Bible teaches us to wait expectantly on the Lord as did the faithful followers of old.