Thursday, December 31, 2015

Do It Better

Do It Better
January 4, 2016
Romans 3:23  ". . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . ."

Happy New Year!  Most people believe the start of a new year can be the start of something fresh, a new chapter, good things to come.  And it can certainly mean that if it is what the Lord desires.  The turn of a new year is often a time when we like to make resolutions, intentions to do something with vigor.  If the new year is a time for you to do that, then you certainly should.  Good habits are worth the effort and the start of a new year can be just the place to begin.  You may be the opposite kind of person at the new year, realizing resolutions are easily broken by the majority of individuals.  There is nothing in Scripture requiring you to make a New Year's Resolution.

But I do have a suggestion.  Whether you make a resolution or not, whether you try something new or you pick up something you set down a long time ago, you should do life better.  Picking up a new habit is great, but how about the things with no Heavenly value you need to lay down?  How about getting back to what the Lord has for your life.  Whether it is the start of a new year or the start of a new morning, the Lord desires that you align yourself daily with His plan for your life.  I'm not suggesting you've left the path completely, but I am suggesting you've probably missed the mark more often than not.  The Lord's design for your life has not changed, it has always been the same since the day you were born.  Your life, your current state of being, may agree with that or it might not.  Does your life look completely as the Lord intended or does it look a little more messy?  As you do life, are you doing it as the Lord wants?

If you saw a picture, a final drawing of what the Lord desired for your life, would it resemble your life today.  The Holy Spirit is pricking your heart right now, this very moment, affirming in your spirit what He'd like for you to change, how He'd like it better.  This isn't to punish you but to give you the life He intended for you.  Doing it better means He can use you for His glory even more.  Doing it better means you can receive His full blessings on this earth.  Doing it better means less heart ache than you experienced last year.  Doing it better means your reward in Heaven will be larger and your time on this earth will be far less stressful.

As I read and re-read Scripture, I notice the lives of those who did amazing things for the Lord.  I also noticed where they missed the mark while going about their lives, how that impacted things so much, the ripple effect into everything.  While they were used for His glory, they certainly could have done life better, if anything avoided so much heart ache.  The Lord's grace was there for them and it is there for you, though grace for your shortcomings should not be your permanent crutch.  Do life, that is for sure, but this should be your resolution: do life better, as God intended for you.  You know where you've missed the mark and He's asking you, telling you, to re-align your life perfectly with the original path He had for you.  This isn't limited to your current spiritual walk but your hobbies and activities, your marriage, and even your career.  Re-evaluate everything and figure out where you can do life better.

Don't take my word for it; look it up
: Ps 139:16, Matt 3:10, Matt 24:45-47, Rom 3:21-24, James 4:17

Sunday, December 27, 2015

More Room

More Room
December 28, 2015
Luke 2:7  ". . .She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them."

Having just come away from celebrating Christmas, I will ask you a question.  Did you make room this Christmas for Him?  Did you make a concerted effort to include Christ in the majority or all of your Christmas plans and celebrations?  While you might be quick to answer in the affirmative, did you truly make enough room for Jesus or could you have done better.  The Innkeeper, the character in the story of the birth of Jesus, did not have enough room, hence the need for the stable and manger.  Sure he might not have been expecting the birth of a king, and if he was expecting Him then he would have made SURE to have enough space.  But the Innkeeper wasn't looking out for His Savior and therefore did not have enough room.  I will ask you the question again, in consideration of the Innkeeper.  Did you prepare enough room, in advance, in excitement of your King?

If you read the birth story of Jesus between the different gospels you get a full and vivid picture of the characters involved.  Without me hashing it from the beginning, you'll recall the many characters: angels, wise men, shepherd, the keeper of the inn, Mary, Joseph, the witnessing animals.  This list includes likely and unlikely characters and I would suggest you parallel yourself with one of these characters.  Which one most described you this Christmas.  Were you a shocked shepherd?  Were you a seeking wise man?  Were you a busy inn keeper?  Were you a by-standing animal?  Were you a patient and diligent Joseph?  Were you a willing Mary?  Maybe you were a messenger angel.  All the characters played a unique role in the story of Christmas and I'm sure you were like more than one or two of them at times.  Which character did you attempt to be like this Christmas?  I would suggest we all fell a little short of truly honoring the birth of Christ.

This gives you an opportunity for reflection and determination.  Evaluate your actions over this most recent celebratory season of the birth of our Savior and determine how you want to live your life going forward.  Me, personally, I fall into the busy keeper of the inn role.  This is not one role I am proud of but life gets busy and my life tends to get filled up.  I don't intentionally fill up my rooms, but I also don't purposely set a side a place for Him in every area.  This gives me, and you, an opportunity to do better in every facet.  We can determine which character we'd like to be like, who we want to be.  I know who I want to be but life gets in my way.  What gets in the way of who you want to be?  Don't lie to yourself, because there is something that keeps you from being that person.  Maybe you've never thought of it before; maybe you've never imagined who you should be like.  If you don't intentionally be somebody you'll accidentally be someone you don't like.

The Lord appreciates an intentional person, someone who wants to be someone in His story, this story of life.  There is room for you to be someone and you get to make more room for this opportunity.  There is more room for Him in your life.  There is more room than you realize and this is going to be huge, your expanded role.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Matthew 1:18-24, Luke 2:1-21

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Can You Do It

Can You Do It
December 21, 2015
Philippians 4:13  "I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

I can do everything through Christ who gives me the strength.  Oh what a wonderful, magnificent part of the Bible.  It you've been a Christian for any length of time, you've probably quoted this Scripture a time or two, chanting it even as a self pep talk.  We've all leaned on this verse at some time, believing the verse to be true, that we really CAN do all things through the strength found in Christ.  It is critical, though, if you are going to use this verse as a life quote, to make sure you are using it and understanding it correctly.  Can you REALLY do EVERYTHING?  I'm mean, the Bible uses the world "ALL" as if it is excluding nothing.  So can you really do everything through Him?

First we must understand who penned the words and why he said it.  It was written by the apostle Paul, and he said it to the Christians who were living in Philippi, trying to encourage them to live the life of a Christian through any and all circumstances.  He was telling them no matter what happens, he had to, and we must also, live as a Christian in every situation we find ourselves.  Specifically, Paul was talking about his ability to be content in times of plenty and content in times of trouble.  In fact, Paul never writes that he could do "ALL THINGS."  Paul said he could do, "ALL THIS."  Paul was being specific to his ability to maintain his Christianity in opposite physical and emotional scenarios.  Paul never said he could jump off a cliff and fly, which is obviously absurd, but the point must be made.  A Christian cannot decide what they want to do, then apply the verse to mean "ALL THINGS" to suit the preference.  This is a blatant misuse of Scripture, which has led many to believe inappropriately.

Before you get angry, first understand that the Lord's strength is full enough to equip you to truly accomplish anything He desires for your life.  This statement is true and is supported throughout all of Scripture.  But it must be noted that the Lord will not equip you and strengthen you if He has not first ordered it to happen.  Yes you can truly do it if the Lord has ordained it, but you don't get to decide what you get to do with the Lord's strength.  Paul DOES say you can be certain to draw on the strength of the Lord to help you in every circumstance you find yourself, but He does not say you get to manipulate the circumstances with the strength of Christ to bend it to your own will.  There is a difference between leaning on the Lord to get through difficulty and determining what you'd like your future to become.  You must first check your self, your pride, your agenda, your goals, and your desires at the door before you are allowed to quote this famous verse.  At no point can you quote it to speak into existence something that might actually be contrary to the Lord's will.

Your usage of this verse must be rooted in the foundation of the Lord's will for your life and the path you've ended up on if you've actually followed Him.  Using this verse must be tempered with what is written in James 4:15.  James says that you can pray and hope for a specific future outcome, knowing the Lord's will should be the only result.  So, you can quote the verse, if you actually quote it correctly, with the right words.  You must also intend the meaning the Lord ascribed to it.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Romans 8:28, James 4:15

Sunday, December 13, 2015


December 14, 2015
Matthew 1:18  "This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph. . ."

The story of the birth of Jesus usually starts the same, no mater who is telling the tale.  It almost always starts with, "Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph."  It begins with basically the inception of Jesus.  Whenever someone is recounting the story of a person's life, birth is usually a good place to start, especially with the introduction of the parents responsible for the deed.  I like how the book of Matthew starts with the story, however, it introduces the story by telling us how the Messiah came into the world.  There is a difference between being introduced to a child, a baby, compared to being introduced to the Messiah.  Matthew introduces the end from the beginning, by calling Him the Messiah he tells us who Jesus was before He was even born.  In fact, the point of Jesus being the Messiah actually tells us the story before the story.

There is a story that must be told before the birth of Jesus being the Messiah.  The story is the reason for the Messiah and what a Messiah accomplishes.  Everyone thinks the birth of Jesus starts with Mary and Joseph, except I would argue that the birth of Jesus starts with the birth of the world.  Remember the beginning of the Bible?  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  And then in the New Testament, the Bible says that Jesus was there in the beginning, at the inception of creation.  In is interesting how many thousands of years take place between the inception of the world, with Jesus present, and the inception of a baby, the human form of Jesus.  It tells us that birth was preceded by life.  The planning that went into the story of Jesus' birth, thousands of years of planning were apparently required.

Translate this planning into your own life for a moment.  Your life story started with your birth, and some would argue it started with the introduction of your parents.  I would argue that it started many years prior to that.  Birth was preceded by life, even yours.  Every birth is preceded by life, the life giving planning inspired by the Lord.  It took a tremendous amount of planning to bring your life about.  If the Lord took a tremendous amount of planning to bring your life to fruition, isn't it reasonable to think that He has a plan and intention for your life?  Every birth has an intention from the Lord.  This goes for the birth that gave you life and the events that are birthing in your life right now.  The Lord did not conceive of Jesus just to result in a still birth.  If the Lord has birthed something in your life, do you think He is intent on allowing it to be a still birth?  Birth was meant to be the start of something, not the end result of something.

The Lord had a plan when He brought your life about, just like He had a plan when He brought about Jesus as the son of Mary and Joseph.  The Lord is patient and relentless in the execution of His plans, setting them up even thousands of years in advance to bring about a birth.  And that birth isn't the beginning.  The beginning started so long ago.  If it feels like a birth for you, put it in perspective that it is the result of significant planning by the Lord and still not the end result.  There is so much more right after a birth, just like there was so much more that prepares for a birth.  Get excited, something is birthing.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 1:1, Is 43:19, Is 66:8-10, Matt 1, James 1:18

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Bloody Glasses

Bloody Glasses
December 7, 2015
Ephesians 1:4  "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. . ."

There is something called rose colored glasses.  It is an idiom about the outlook someone has, which is more favorable in comparison to another person's point of view.  In fact, the outlook of having rose colored glasses is kind of offensive, suggesting the person's point of view is not grounded in reality.  Someone with rose colored glasses cannot see things the way that actually are, but in a rosy light.  This can actually be a good thing sometimes as it allows a person to be happier, not seeing the negative in a situation.  The down side is that the person can sometimes be taken advantage of or taken for a fool.  If I had to error on one side, I suppose I would like to have rose colored glasses in more situations.

Someone else has rose colored glasses.  It is the Lord.  His glasses are more like blood colored glasses, though.  It is the only way He can look at you and me, in the midst of our sin, and not wipe us off the face of the earth.  Our sins make us look despicable, literally, but the Lord looks at us through blood colored glasses.  Paul writes in Ephesians that the Lord looks at us as blameless.  This is not to say the Lord can't blame us for our actions, because He can.  This is saying that when the Lord looks at us, He is seeing first the redemption Jesus paid for with His own blood.  The blood of Jesus is a filter that the Lord looks through in order to see us as Holy and Blameless in His sight.

In verse four of the first chapter of Ephesians, Scripture says the Lord chose us to be blameless in His sight.  But there is no way we can be blameless unless something wipes away our sins.  That redemption is spelled out in the verses following the fourth verse, through to the explanation of how it happens.  In verse seven, Paul writes that we are redeemed through the blood of Jesus, which is only due to the graciousness of God.  The Lord looks at us through blood colored glasses because He was full of grace before we were even born.  He knew we'd be full of sin and knew there would be no way He could look upon us as blameless unless He also made a way to see us in that light.

If this is how the Lord looks at us, then we need to cut ourselves a little slack.  We think that because we can't actually be perfect then the Lord could never possibly look at us that way.  Surprising enough, the Lord doesn't submit to our line of thinking.  Right now, if you've accepted the blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin, then you are perfectly blameless.  The Lord does not see your wrongs, in fact He has no more record of them.  They are removed from His memory and He can see you in a very favorable light.  The Lord has the enviable blood colored glasses and He is looking through them right now.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: 1 Cor 13:5, Eph 1, 1 John 4:8