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Showing posts from 2016

The Word: Fully Man, Fully God (Part 2)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory.” These words from the prologue to John’s account of the Gospel are some of the most stunning and poetic words ever penned. Words like these above give us a sense about exactly what was going on that first Christmas night and yet remind us that there is great mystery in the manger as well. In my first post, we examined the fully human, fully Divine nature of God’s Word. In this post, we’ll hone in on the fully human, fully Divine nature of Jesus, God’s Word made flesh. Jesus, the Word made flesh, is fully human It is vital that we understand the full humanity of Jesus as well as His Divinity. I think as Christians we tend to view Jesus as more God than human. But if Jesus were not fully human, He couldn’t truly save humans. It wouldn’t be fair if God just pretended to be a human and lived a sinless life without any temptations or stru…

The Word: Fully Human, Fully Divine

The Christmas holiday brings with it questions of both the incarnation and the trustworthiness of its record. Was Jesus just a man claiming to be God or God pretending to be a man? If the Bible was written by men, can we really trust it? In this two-part post, we’ll see the fully human, fully Divine nature of both God’s Word (post 1) and Jesus, God’s Word made flesh (post 2). So this week, lets examine the reliability of the Bible, which bears the record of the God-Man, Jesus. The Word of God is fully human a) Human agents, with their own personalities and backgrounds, wrote the Bible The Scripture was written over more than a millennium-long stretch of time by several dozen authors from various cultural backgrounds. Therefore to consider that God could speak one distinct message for His people through such different people in different times and different places is surely a miracle. Students of the Bible can tell you that the message of God’s Word, whether Genesis or Revelation (or a…

Rekindling the Wonder of Christmas

So here we are again in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Churches are beginning to light Advent candles and schedule Christmas pageants. Radio stations are playing, “Silent Night”. And people are climbing steep ladders and digging through stuffed closets to cover their homes with colorful decorations. Not to mention all the Christmas parties! But can I ask that oft-repeated question on the lips of every toddler: Why? What is the point of all this? Why do we put ourselves through this year after year after year? It is so easy in the hustle and bustle of the season to forget. And even when we hear the story of the manger and the shepherds and the angels, we miss it because of its familiarity to us. We’re numb to it; like a smoker who has gone nose blind and can’t tell that everything in their house reeks of smoke because they’ve been so accustomed to living in it. We’re no longer surprised about the story of Christmas, and that can be very dangerous.  If you find yourself yawning or …

The Gospel of God

Today's reading: Judges 2, Jeremiah 15, Mark 1, Acts 6.

Gospel summary: We all deserved God's unending wrath because we have forsaken the Lord in pursuit of idols; yet God has astoundingly shown us grace by sending his beloved Son Jesus to save us. Jesus came as God's good news and his death and resurrection are the good news we must now proclaim to this broken world.

Prayer: Father in heaven, you are worthy of my heartfelt worship every moment of my life. I deserve your judgment in hell and you've given me the greatest news of salvation in Jesus. You poured my deserved wrath on to Jesus instead of me, so I praise you. I often forget how good the good news is and live as though I don't have anything to proclaim. When I do sense the goodness of your gospel, I too often don't share it with others because of the fear of man. Thank you that you still put up with me and help me move forward in obedient proclamation. Help me to always stay humbled by your grace and to …

He Was Cursed So I'd Be Blessed

Today's reading: Deuteronomy 21, Psalm 108-109, Isaiah 48, Revelation 18.

Gospel summary: Left to ourselves, we would have no hope in this world. The enemy of our souls would seduce us and lead us astray to everlasting destruction. Our only hope is found in the steadfast love of God, who sent his Son to bear the curse of our sins on the cross. Since Jesus died in our place and rose again from the dead, we who hope in him have hope that will last beyond the fall of this world. Since Jesus took the curse we deserved for our sins, we have nothing to fear when this world's condemnation finally comes. We are forever safe in the arms of Jesus and he gives us strength to persevere all the attacks of the enemy and until that Day comes.

Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you that Jesus bore the curse for my sins so that I could know the blessing of your love. Left to myself I would be a hard-hearted rebel serving my own selfish will, so give me grace to cling to Jesus each day. Help me to s…

Life Aboard a Sinking Ship

Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 20, Psalm 107, Isaiah 47, Revelation 17.

Gospel summary: This world and its desires can easily drag us away from Christ. We have often been led astray by the world's way of thinking and found ourselves grasping other idols because we've forgotten how the true God has chosen us, called us, and redeemed us at the cost of his only Son's life blood. Yet even in our sin, God has been gracious to discipline us and lead us back to his heart. God will soon judge this world and its ways, therefore I must not grow too comfortable here, lest I go down with it. I must always view this world as a sinking ship and its pleasures as those which fools enjoy like those who carelessly eat caviar on the deck of the Titanic, unconcerned that their pleasures would soon result in their own deaths.

Prayer: Father in heaven, I need your grace. This world is full of temptations and snares at every turn. There is no place I can hide from the enticing delicacies of worldl…

Is God Angry with Me or Does He Love Me?

The following is a devotion I sent in for our local newspaper, the Dillon Herald:

     Psalm 7:11 states, “…God is angry with the wicked every day”. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world…” Well, which is it? Should we think God is only angry with us or that He only loves us? There are two types of people I want to address: those who say, “I’m a good person and don’t deserve God’s wrath” and those who say, “I’m a horrible person and don’t deserve God’s love.” God wants each of you to think hard about these two verses before you die.       If you’re in the “I’m good” group, take a hard look at Psalm 7:11. Over 400 times in the Bible God expresses righteous anger/wrath. Maybe you say, “But the verse says God is angry with the wicked, and I’m not wicked”. “The wicked” here are not just suicide bombers, drug cartels, or homicidal dictators. God hates all sin, not just the “big” ones. “Small” sins like gossip, lust, ingratitude, selfish pride, lying, and filthy language (and the list …

The Nations Will Worship King Jesus

Today's Reading: Numbers 28, Psalm 72, Isaiah 18-20, and 2 Peter 1.

Gospel Summary: Although when God looked out at the inhabitants of the world he didn't find any worshippers of him, but only enemies and rebels, he sent his only Son Jesus to purchase our ransom. At the cost of his own life, Jesus secured the eternal worship of people from all nations. One day heaven will have representatives from every tribe, tongue, nation, and language praising the Lamb who was slain for their salvation.

Prayer: Father in heaven, you are worthy of unending worship from my heart and the hearts of all you have made, not only because of your creating us but much more for redeeming us. Help me to offer the sacrifice of praise to you as I go about my day. Empower me to reach out to the unbelieving world around me with confidence that all you draw near will believe and be saved. Make my feet swift with the gospel, my knees bent in prayer, my hands open to the hurting, my eyes fixed on heaven, and m…

Jesus, the True Joshua

Today's Reading: Numbers 27, Psalm 70-71, Isaiah 17, and 1 Peter 5.

Gospel Summary: Left to ourselves we are like sheep without a shepherd and our lives would be directionless and doomed for destruction. Yet the Good Shepherd Jesus, the true Joshua has come and leads us to a bountiful and glorious future in his presence in heaven, though we don't deserve it. He suffered in our place on the cross, then rose again victorious so that now we can walk in victory, if we follow him.

Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you that Jesus lead me out of my sin to himself. Help me follow his leading and stay clinging to his side at all times. I am so easily mislead by the deceitful promises of sin, but help me keep looking heavenward where you lead on. In Jesus' name, amen.

Key Verse: "And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory." -1 Peter 5:4

Hymn: "I Have A Shepherd" by Leonard Weaver

I have a Shepherd, One I love so well;
How He has b…

In the Wilderness, but Glory is Ahead

Today's Reading: Numbers 26, Psalm 69, Isaiah 16, and 1 Peter 4.

Gospel Summary: Although we deserve to die in the wilderness of this world because of our sins against a holy God, he has graciously chosen to place our punishment on his only Son Jesus instead. Now by faith we have the promised and secure hope of entering glory where King Jesus will reign in righteousness. As we suffer in this world, we must not forget the suffering Christ endured on the cross for our salvation. We can persevere with Jesus as our King with the certain hope of heaven in view and this will propel us to love even our enemies, because Christ has so loved us. We can also recall that King Jesus will judge with righteousness so that any mistreatment we endure from unbelievers will either be judged at the Last Day or has already been judged at the cross for all who come in faith to Christ.

Prayer: Thank you Father. In your marvelous grace you have saved me from the judgment I deserved for my sins. Instead of …

The One Thing that Astonishes Jesus

As finite human beings living in a fallen world, we experience shock or surprise multiple times a day. An unexpected phone call or knock on the door, a breaking news story, an accidental spill of coffee on your freshly ironed shirt. Emergency rooms would cease to exist if this element of surprise weren’t part of being human. If we manage to go one day without having any surprises it’s a rare thing. But what about God? Is it possible for God to be surprised, stupefied, and dumbfounded? Scripture teaches that God is not only all-knowing (Psalm 139), but that he also sovereignly orchestrates every event from the rise and fall of world empires (Daniel 4:25b) to the hairs on our heads and the flight of every bird that swoops over them (Matthew 10:29-31). He knows and guides everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen. Period. So when it comes to genuinely catching God off-guard, the biblical answer reveals that to be an impossibility. Yet in Mark 6, we see Jesus choosing t…

Jesus is Lord Over Zika...and Death

Every new season we see the signs up around town. Get your flu shots now while supplies last! If we manage to escape that terrible virus, we certainly cannot escape the relentless common cold. Everywhere we go there are bugs, germs, pathogens, bacteria, and viruses creeping and floating nearby. Recently the threat of the Zika virus has led many to fear mosquitos even more. Some diseases even grow from inside of us and have a life of their own. Cancer is so elusive at times that doctors cannot decipher its origins and don’t know a cure. If these diseases have never left us bedridden yet, we’ve at least sat beside the bed of a sick and dying person. Much worse, we’ve all stood beside more than one coffin bearing the lifeless corpse of a loved one. Why is it that after all our medical advances, this world is still a disease-ridden and life-threatening place? Why is there no safe place to hide from sickness and death? Maybe you’ve never thought about it, but the Bible gives us a very clea…

Faith in the Sacrifice Gets Us behind the Curtain

Scripture: Exodus 27, Proverbs 3, John 6, Galatians 2.

Gospel Summary: We are sinners who constantly turn away from God's wise commands and therefore are closed off from all access to him. No amount of good works can ever atone for our sins. The only hope for guilty sinners like us to regain access into God's presence is by faith in the sacrifice. The continual blood sacrifices of the Old Testament were necessary for God's people if they wished to know the God behind the curtain, yet they're only a shadow of the great sacrifice to come at Calvary. By faith in Christ's death and resurrection to atone for our sins, we enjoy fellowship with the holy God we've offended, for the curtain has been torn in two. God doesn't ask us to work for his favor, but instead has freely given it to us in Christ if we only believe. If we lean on our own understanding (that says we're ok), we'll remain separated from God, but if we trust in the Lord Jesus with all our h…

Riches for Poor Rebels

Scripture: Exodus 20, Job 38, Luke 23, 2 Corinthians 8

Gospel summary: The sovereign and majestic God over all creation allowed himself to be rejected, beaten, and crucified by rebellious sinners so that he might take their  place and bear God's wrath reserved for them in order to give them the riches of acceptance before God. We who are the recipients of such lavish grace ought to live out our days in obedient worship and give of ourselves to help others in need because this is how God has so treated us.

Prayer: Father in heaven, words cannot express a proper response from my heart to yours for the rich grace you have given to me in Christ. Every sin I have ever cherished was a sin Christ was punished for and yet he extended grace to me. Although I was a spiritually impoverished enemy of God, you came in Christ to credit me with all the riches of your righteousness and have brought me into a glorious fellowship with yourself both now and forevermore. Help me to see others in the…

An Unworthy Servant of A Worthy Savior

Scripture: Job 32, Luke 17, 2 Corinthians 2.

Gospel summary: For God not to punish sinners in hell is mercy. For God to redeem sinners at the cost of his Son's lifeblood is grace upon grace. Because of God's amazing grace to us in Christ, we ought to humbly serve him with grateful hearts that feel unworthy of any reward whatsoever, since we already have received the greatest reward possible.

A prayer: Father in heaven, glory to your great name! The fact that you allow my voice to reach into your holy heavens at all is nothing short of lavish grace. I am the lowest sinner worthy of the deepest pit of hell and yet you have poured out on me the fragrance of Christ and have clothed me in his righteousness and adopted me into your loving family. There is no greater grace that can be given than that which you have given me in Christ. He smelled the stench of death and your holy wrath for my sins so that I could smell the fragrance of your forgiveness and unending favor. Because of …

Redeemed and Given Resurrection Power

Scripture: Ex. 13, Job 25, Lk. 14, 1 Cor. 15.

Gospel summary: God redeemed us from slavery to sin, self, and Satan by his mighty power when he sent Jesus to live how we couldn't, die how we should have, and rise so we will too one day. We can die to ourselves each day and live out the Christian life in hope because the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us.

Prayer: Father in heaven, I am so weak and frail. Left to myself, I'd never be able to live the Christian life and would remain a slave to my selfish desires until my dying day. But I thank you that you graciously decided to redeem my soul from such a terrible existence, and at the cost of your beloved Son! I thank you God that Jesus wasn't just a good teacher like all the rest who lies in a tomb in the earth, but that you proved your redeeming power by rising him from the dead as no one else has. I thank you that Jesus is alive forevermore and that his life has now been given to me. Even though I will di…

A Cry from Austria

A cry from Austria: 84% of our citizens believe in God, yet few have a personal relationship with Christ. In fact, only 0.5% even hold to evangelical Christianity. We have high rates of suicide, abortion, and alcoholism, revealing that our religious veneer doesn't have the life-changing power of the gospel. Pray for the church to shine a bright ray of hope into our deep spiritual darkness and for God to do his work of changing hearts as only he can do.

A Cry from Armenia

A cry from Armenia: We're a small Middle Eastern country surrounded by bigger nations that have long threatened our safety. In fact, half of our population was murdered by the Turkish government in 1915, killing 1.5 million people in a genocide they still claim didn't happen. We were the first Christian nation and most of us are of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Pray for our physical safety and for believers to show the love of Christ to our enemies, so that even our Muslim neighbors may see we love Jesus more than our cultural heritage and may also come to find new life in him.

A Cry from Argentina

A cry from Argentina: We're a Latin American nation with a population over 40 million. 90% of us are Roman Catholic and cults like Mormonism are wreaking havoc here too. Pray for evangelical Christians to be bold witnesses here and for the truth of Christ to outshine any man-made religion.

A Cry from Angola

A cry from Angola: We're a West African nation that has suffered forty years of almost constant war. Our first president promised to eliminate Christianity within 20 years, but Christianity has quadrupled in number! Pray for the gospel of peace to save our war-torn people and for Christians to live pure and holy lives to impact all areas of life here.