God is Speaking to You!

June 19, 2017
The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: ” ‘ “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ‘ “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” – Numbers 6:22-26

Imagine that you’re in the throne room of your king. There are many other people there with you. The king says, “Blessings to you.” How would you feel?

You would probably feel fairly good about it. I would too.

But what if the king pulled you aside, so that it was just you and the king, and the king said to you personally, “Blessings to you!”? How would you feel about that?

Undoubtedly, you would be absolutely thrilled!

That’s what God is saying to you in this blessing! He’s speaking personally to you, saying that he is blessing you, yes you, personally, individually. He’s not just throwing a blessing out and saying, “If you get lucky, grab a piece.” No.

Rather, it’s God speaking to you individually, personally, saying, “The LORD bless you, with your particular hopes, joys, hurts, dreams, goals.” Yes, it’s God speaking individually to you, promising to pour out his blessings upon you personally, individually. How do you know that?

Because the original Hebrew word translated “you” is singular. Yes, God is speaking to individuals, speaking to you!

The ultimate King – your God – pouring out his blessing … upon you!

Prayer: Oh Almighty King, thank you for your blessings! Continue to pour them out upon me! In Jesus’ name I pray it. Amen.

Well, I Just Don’t Get It

June 12, 2017
When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. – John 15:26-7

Have you ever tried to figure out God? Don’t. It’ll blow your mind. One God yet three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is that immense.

But God doesn’t expect you or even want you to figure him out. He just wants you to know who he is. And when you know who he is, he wants you to tell others so that they know who God is too. God is that important.

It starts with the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sends from the Father. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Counselor and the Spirit of truth, which is really appropriate because otherwise none of us would know the truth of God, especially of Jesus.

Without the Holy Spirit, we’d only know the guilt and shame we carry because of our sin. And we’d only know that, as hard as we try, there’s nothing we can do to take our guilt and shame away. We can never do enough for a holy God. That’s the greatest frustration and predicament in life.

But it is enough when a holy God sends his only Son from heaven and that Son becomes one of us. It is enough when that Son lives the holy life God expects us to live because we have failed so miserably living it. It is enough when that Son sacrifices himself on a cross as payment and punishment for our sin. It is enough when God exchanges his Son’s holy life for our sinful life, giving his holy life to us and dumping our sinful life on him. It is enough when God accepts this exchange and raises his Son from the dead as proof.

This is the true God who goes to such lengths to save mankind. And that’s what the Holy Spirit makes clear to you.

Now comes your witness to others. They need to know what you know. God is that important.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for revealing to me the truth of who you are. Thank you for being my Savior. May others know the same. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Promise That Will Not Be Broken

June 5, 2017
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7-8

Jesus has ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. We are here on earth, awaiting his return on Judgment Day. What are we supposed to do while we wait?

The prophet Jeremiah makes a case that the most important thing for us to do is trust the Lord’s promises. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness. He forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin. He calls us to repentance and faith, and says that we can be confident in his ability and his willingness to forgive us because of everything that Jesus has done.

Jeremiah says that the life of a person who trusts the Lord’s promises looks like the life of a tree with a reliable water source. No matter what the season or the weather, such a tree continues its life cycle and bears fruit. Our reliable water source is the promises of God.

The context of Jeremiah’s encouragement is to trust those promises more than the promises of human beings, and even more than the promises of our own hearts. While we wait for Jesus to return, people will disappoint us, and things we are completely convinced of will prove to be untrue. But the promises of God will never disappoint us, and his Word will always prove to be true.

Do not fear. Do not worry. God can handle whatever comes into your life. He promises that through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer: Lord God, teach me to put my trust in you and fill me with confidence that your promises will not fail. In the fearful experiences and worrisome circumstances of life, bless me with a calm trust in your faithful love through Jesus. Amen.

An Open House

May 29, 2017
During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” – Acts 16:9

How long will eternity last?

Seriously, stop and think about that question.

When you think about it, it’s mind-boggling. The hymn “Amazing Grace” reads, “When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, then when we’d first begun.” And that’s true! Eternity will go on and on and on and on and … well, you get the picture.

Of course, for us who are believers in Jesus, that’s an awesome thing! We’ll be enjoying God’s love and praising him, and it will be incredibly meaningful and joyful!

But for those who go to hell? It will be horrible, horrible, horrible! Separated forever from God and his love, suffering without end!

So can we understand the plea from the Macedonian man? What did the people in that area need? More than anything else they needed to know about Jesus and his forgiving love! More than anything else they needed to know that God loved them! More than anything else they needed to know that heaven was open for them because Jesus had died and risen!

And wonderfully God has brought that knowledge to you! God has “helped” you in bringing you to know that Jesus is your Savior! God has “helped” you in knowing that you’re on your way to heaven! Could anything be more important, more valuable than that?!

And now you get the honor of “helping” others, by leading them to Jesus. Whom can you “help” today?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for “helping” me, leading me to trust that you have saved me. Fill me with appreciation! And lead me to be one who can “help” others to know you. Amen.

You Have Your Orders

May 22, 2017
“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:33-35

It seems only like yesterday when I would tell my daughter to: “Clean up the kitchen after you eat. Feed the dog and let him out. Make sure you get your homework finished and get to bed by 9:00.” Similar instructions are given to responsible children in countless households by parents who are about to leave them home alone for an evening.

Jesus gave his disciples some instructions when he knew that he would be leaving them soon. His instructions were very simple: “Love one another.” By dealing with one another in love, not only would the followers of Jesus be obeying his command, they would also be making it clear to others exactly who they are: disciples of Jesus.

What is this love that we are to have for one another? Jesus tells us that it is to be the same kind of love that he has for us. His love caused him to go to the cross and give up his life for us so that we don’t have to be punished for our sins. His love focused on our greatest need and was willing to do whatever it took to meet it even if that meant he would have to suffer tremendous pain and even die.

Because of his love for us and what that love caused him to do, we know that our sins have been forgiven, and our relationship with God restored. Such wonderful news motivates us to want to live for Jesus, and he tells us how to do so: “Love one another.”

By lifting our eyes off of ourselves to see others and their needs, and then working to meet those needs even if it means personal sacrifice on our part, we obey our Savior’s command to love one another. When we do, other people will notice that there is something different about us. They will recognize that we are disciples of Jesus.

Prayer: Jesus, my Savior, thank you for loving me enough to make the ultimate sacrifice for my sins. Help me to show that same sacrificial love to others that it may be evident to them that I follow and obey you. Amen.

Singing in Unison or Singing to Your Own Tune?

May 10, 2017
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. … And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” …Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; … Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. … And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” – Revelation 7:7-17 (selected verses)

People say Christianity is elitist. They don’t want to live by anyone else’s rules but their own. Is it any wonder that one of the most requested songs at funerals is Frank Sinatra’s, “My Way”?

Is that your song? Or does your song echo that of the saints in heaven? – “Salvation belongs to our God, … and to the Lamb.” Followers of Christ don’t boast in themselves. They boast in their Savior God. Jesus is the only thing that really matters in this life. Only he has provided deliverance from sin, all fears, and a hopeless future.

And who benefits? A select few? No! “A great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.”

It’s not easy to sing the song of the saints. It’s easy to lose heart in this wicked world. The saints in heaven know it. They are those “who have come out of the great tribulation.” But what do those saints have to say to us? “Hang in there!”

How? Don’t rely on yourself. Trust in him who is truly wise and powerful. God gives you the strength to handle whatever you’re suffering.

Just remember that your suffering doesn’t begin to compare to what’s waiting for you in heaven. “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

From tribulation to triumph. Hang in there. Heaven is worth it!

Prayer: Give me strength, Lord, when life gets hard. Keep me focused on the glory you have waiting for me in heaven together with all your saints. Amen.

Getting Yourself in Control

May 1, 2017
“In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.” – Jonah 2:2-9

Have you ever been in a situation where you lost all control? Maybe you were driving down the highway and your car hit a very slippery spot and immediately began sliding and spinning. You quickly realize that no matter how much you pump the brakes or crank on the wheel, it doesn’t matter. The situation is out of your control. Or perhaps you’ve been dealing with a health issue, and it seems that no matter what you do, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. You faithfully take all your pills, eat a healthy diet, and even do your daily exercise. But the situation seems out of your control.

This must have been how Jonah felt. He was in the belly of a great fish, not knowing which way was up or down or how to get out. The situation was out of his control. So he did the only thing he could. He called out to the LORD in his distress, because he knew that “salvation comes from the LORD.” The LORD answered Jonah’s prayer and commanded the fish to vomit the prophet safely on dry land.

When the religious leaders of Jesus’ day asked him to prove that he was the promised Messiah, Jesus answered by saying, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). Just as Jonah spent three days in the dark enclosed belly of a fish, so Jesus would spend three days in a tomb to prove once and for all that “salvation comes from the LORD.” But here’s a major difference: God used the fish to discipline Jonah as he fled from the mission that God had given him to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. Jesus never once wavered from the mission that God had given him, but he suffered death and the grave – not for his own rebellion, but for ours.

“Salvation come from the LORD.” In a miracle, far greater than being rescued from the belly of a fish, God raised his Son Jesus from the dead not only to save him, but to show that salvation for all people comes through Jesus.

Do you feel like your life is out of control? Like Jonah, cry out to the LORD in your distress, because the LORD loves you and promises to listen to the prayers of his children. If he answers your prayer and grants you salvation from your earthly problem, like Jonah you can offer a song of thanksgiving. But even if he doesn’t, you can still offer a song of thanksgiving because you can be confident that LORD God who raised Jesus from the dead has promised to work all things to bring you eternal salvation.

Prayer: LORD, in my distress I call out to you. Hear my prayer and strengthen my faith in your promises. With shouts of grateful praise, I lift my voice, because salvation comes from you. Amen!