“Glorify God!”

“Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness,”
Psalm 29:1-2

Alpha and Omega! The First and the Last! He that was, and is, and is to come! Majesty! Omnipotent! Omniscient! Heavenly Father! King of all kings, and LORD of all lords! El Shaddai! He that is worthy of all honor and all praise! He, our Father who art in heaven, is worthy of all honor and all praise. His name is to be glorified. His name is to be magnified.

Ah, we know God by these titles and many, many more. Or, at least, we should. God is worthy to hear His children speak reverently about Him on a continual basis. Daily the praises of who He is in our life should pour from our lips, recognizing Him for His glorious nature. But, may I venture to say, that to truly glorify God is to go beyond the words of our lips. It is something that should be manifested in our daily lives. After all, actions do speak louder than words and for the world to see what a mighty God we serve – they will witness it through the way we glorify Him with our lives.

Matthew 5:16 exhorts us to, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The world needs a visual display of how this thing works. They need someone to show them how to shine; how to live this life the way God designed for mankind to live it. This world lacks good representation. “We are ambassadors for Christ,” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Before He left this world to return to heaven, Jesus said, “I have glorified thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” (John 17:4). We, who are now saved, as ambassadors, are to carry on the work of glorifying our heavenly Father. As Jesus Himself pointed out, it goes beyond lip service; rather it is a life that has obediently followed Him and “worked.”

Again, actions really do speak louder than words! What Jesus did and what we have to do in our daily lives are exactly the same. Jesus said, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” And, He teaches His disciples that in order for the world to glorify God, they need to “see your good works” and then they will “glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16).

So, you see, praising God with your lips is one thing. But, glorifying God with your life is something totally different. Glorifying God is the manifestation of the praise that is living on the inside of you, working on the outside for all men to see. Is your life today fulfilling the command of David in Psalm 29? Are we giving unto the Lord what is His due? It was Jesus’ main goal in life. Is it ours?

“Do It with Passion!”

 

There is one thing that really gets me going and that is seeing someone work their gift or talent with passion.  Oh, I have seen people operate in the blessings of the Lord with dryness and being very dispassionate about what they were doing, and can I tell you, there is no comparison.

Talent, skill and position can only carry you so far in life because if what you are working in is not a drawing force eventually people will stop paying attention to you; eventually people will become just as dispassionate about what you are trying to put forth.  John Maxwell said,

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”

I agree wholeheartedly.  People want to follow one that gets their soul stirred up.  People want to walk the same course as one who is set ablaze for a cause; who is consumed with a yearning to get things done and to excel to be all that God has called them to be.

That word consumes gives the idea of allowing oneself to be spent for the cause.  John 2:17 spoke of Jesus in this sense when it says, “And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house has eaten me up.”  Other versions actually use the word “consume,” (see also Psalm 69:9).  This was said after He overthrew the tables in the temple.  His passion for God’s house stirred inside of Him and would not allow Him to pass by and watch what was going on without saying or doing something about it.  Jesus spent Himself for the cause of God.

In Psalm 119:139 also talks of being taken over with passion.  “My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.”  The cause of God was so alive in him that the psalmist couldn’t help but to be cut to the heart when others would come against His word.

Where the Spirit of God operates there can be no dull or dry commitment.  It’s all the way or nothing at all.  There has to be fervency, (Rom. 12:11).  One has to be on fire with and for what God has placed on the inside of them.

“It is the Spirit who gives life,” (John 6:63, NASB).  There is no deadness when the Spirit of God is in full operation and if you are passionate about what God has given you, you should be Spirit-led, Spirit-full, and Spirit-alive!  You should be on fire with passion!

Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”  Put your all into it!  Let what God has placed on the inside of you bubble up and boil over to the outside that men “may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (Mt. 5:16).  The things you do may or may not gain attention but the things you do with passion draws people closer to Him.  God gets the glory when people see what He is doing through you and they want to be a part of it.

Live life passionately.  Live life like the Spirit of God is alive in you; live life on fire for Him.  If you are going to sing, let your voice ring out with a burning love till it reaches the souls of others drawing them in.  If you play the drums then beat them like the heart of God beats in you.  If you are going to write, write that your words are felt more than they are read.  If you are going to preach, preach as if the cloud from the glory of the Lord has already filled the temple beckoning men to take notice of His presence.  The same is true for any gift or talent God has placed in you.  Whatever you do, whatever your gift, whatever your skill do it with passion!

I don’t know if God is calling you to overthrow some tables but I do know that He is calling you to operate like He’s alive in you.  He’s calling you to use your might and be passionate about what He has given you!

Be blessed.

“Wait on God!”

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint,” Isaiah 40:31

I must admit that patience is not a top priority on our list of must-do priorities.  Oh, you have a list and so do I, whether it’s actually written down somewhere or mentally stored in your consciousness where you are checking it off as you go through the day.  These lists are designed for us to do as much as humanly possible in one day.  They are supposed to bring order to the chaotic American schedule.  Well . . . how’s it going for you today?  That’s what I thought.  Either that list has become so astronomically large you can’t even begin to scratch the surface.  Or, your day has become so tight to adhere to the regulations of your list that there is no room to breathe or experience any joy, zapping the strength right out of you.

Now, there are some who have mastered the list and still manage to have a life.  But, they are few and far between.  For us average folk the list has become a foe.  If we don’t get everything done on it, it tends to point out our deficiencies making us feel that we will never get on top of it all.  Or, if we do complete it, we are to the point of exhaustion: physically, mentally and spiritually.

Most of us do need to tone up in the area of good organizational methods, but the drive that leads us to put so much on our plate at one time has become unrealistic.  This culture mainly thrives here in America where our nation has become success-obsessed.  This cause can be mainly contributed to our impatience.  Not waiting for things to naturally come and fall into place through a good, hard, regular work ethic.  Instead, we try to push and force success in an unnatural, over-obsessed way.

Not only does this ring true in secular society but also for us who are in Christ.  In our haste to see things happen, to see things move we try to force the hand of God.  And, when He is not moving according to our supposed schedule, the list comes out and the push to get things going unnaturally propels us to take matters into our own hands.  Though patience is a fruit of the Spirit it is a fruit that most of us have yet to develop.  I understand how hard it is to wait for anything.  But, sometimes it’s as if God is saying to us, “I’ve got this.”  For us, there is a humble submission of our will so that the promise can be completed.

Through chapter forty of the book of Isaiah God is stating His case before us.  He is listing all the reasons one can trust Him with whatever you are going through.  He is the preparer and fulfiller of our soul’s salvation (VSS. 3-5).  It is His Word that is sure and will “stand for ever,” (VSS. 6-8).  He is your God and rules in power and with Him, He is bringing a reward (VSS. 9-10).  He is our provider and has promised to care for us (vs. 11).  He has shown forth His creative power (vs. 12).  He is omniscient, possessing unlimited knowledge (VSS. 13-14).  Everything else is insufficient to handle the task (VSS. 15-17).  The works of men are useless (VSS. 19-20) in comparison to the awesome majesty of God (VSS. 21-23).  “To whom then will you like me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One,” (vs. 25).  “He is strong in power” (vs. 26) and “fainteth not, neither is weary,” (vs. 28).  He is screaming out, “I am your Help!” (vs. 29).  So the admonishment to “wait” is because He’s got this!  He can handle it!  There is no greater power – no greater resource outside of him!  So, wait!

Waiting is not always easy.  Not by a long shot.  But, the fruit it produces can really turn out to be a beautiful thing, a beautiful promise fulfilled, and a beautiful end to the story.  The lists prioritizing our lives will go on but we don’t have to force our way to success.  Life is burdensome enough without adding all the extra stresses to it.  “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God,” (Isaiah 40:1).  Today, I will wait on God.  I don’t have to force anything.  In all the prosperity messages coming across the pulpit sometimes we have to remind people, and ourselves, to just wait.  It’s not worth it any other way.

What Would It Have Been Like? – “To Be Ruth of the Bible”

“What now?” clawed at her throat, but the words refused to be uttered from her mouth.  Disbelief that her husband was deadlocked those words in her tortured mind.  Numbness over the reality of it all would have made her swoon if it were not for the look on her mother-in-law’s face.

“Not now,” Ruth thought as she tried to hold on to her composure despite the sadness that gripped her own heart.  “Noami needs me to be strong,” she silently willed within herself.  “First, Elimelech, and now this.  How much more can she bear…”

“Daughters,” Naomi spoke up, “it is time,” feeling greatly resolved at the decision that had to be made.

“What?” both women, Ruth and Orpah, spoke in unison.

“It is time for me to return home.  Oh, girls, Moab has been good to my family and me these last years.  But, Moab is not home.”  Looking at their pleading eyes Naomi continued, “It has recently come to my attention that the famine we fled from is now over.  God has blessed my people once again with His favor.  There is now bread in Bethlehem.  I have no more reason to stay here.  It is time for me to go back.”

“But, what of your life here,” asked one of the women?

“I no longer have a life here, dear,” Naomi cried with sobs breaking through her words.  “In this land, I have had to say goodbye to the people I treasure most in this world.  This land has taken my heart; it has taken my family.  I’ve watched my husband die and now I am forced to let go of my sons.  What is there left for me here?”

“Naomi, you have us,” Ruth spoke confidently.

“No, my daughter.  It is best if you two return to your homes as I must return to mine.  I am old.  I have nothing left to offer you.”

“Mother,” Ruth lovingly and gently spoke to her.  “We can do this together.  You don’t have to return to Bethlehem and we don’t have to leave your side.  Somehow, someway we can make this work.”

Sighing, with the prayerful hope for understanding, Naomi turned to the face that bore the sadness of her own.  “Child, I love you both, and I would that for all the world to have things as they once were.  But, it is not so.  Things will never be the same for me again.  Not here anyway.  Now, I must return to my own people where I belong to seek solace for this old, broken heart.”

“Then, permit us to go with you,” Ruth said with Orpah nodding in agreement.

“Mahlon and Chilion were my only sons.  I have no more.  I am now too old to remarry.  It’s as I told you, I have nothing left to offer you.  It would be selfish of me to ask you to give up the possibility of a better future in your parent’s homes to follow me.  Go, return now to your own people.  Perhaps God will be gracious to you and you can remarry there and start over again someday.”

“You don’t mean that do you,” Ruth questioned as she looked into the eyes of the woman whom she has come to love?  Sobbing by her side, Orpah could not speak.  Their world had been shaken, but Naomi is right, she thought within herself.

There was a decision that had to be made that day.  Both Ruth and Orpah would have to choose what path in life they would follow.

What would it have been like to stand there that day and to make that decision?  Those times were not favorable toward women who were all alone.  Should they stay or should they go?

Walking into the unknown toward Bethlehem with Naomi, Ruth chose to go.  Orpah chose to return back home to her people.  There she would hope to find some semblance of normalcy and stability.  Ruth, as the Bible says, clung to Naomi and refused to be parted from this woman who has meant so much to her.

That day Ruth walked away from everything familiar with no promise for better.  Ruth turned her back on her own family to love and support this woman who is not even of her own flesh and blood.  Ruth chose a path most would not want to travel.  Hers was a path of self-sacrifice.  Lest one take her story too lightly, they should consider her life in comparison with ours today.

Before I go anywhere I plan ahead in great detail to be sure I lack nothing when I arrive.  Ruth had no such pleasure.  Not only was she not guaranteed any provisions of life, but would they even accept her in Bethlehem.  Surely by now, they knew that Naomi’s sons married Moabite women.  How would she be treated?  People would rejoice at the return of Naomi, but what of her?  In that place, are there those who would take advantage of her?  If any of those questions ever arose they were not spoken for fear of thwarting the opportunity to follow Naomi.  Her only concern was for that very woman, not herself.

In every part of her journey, Ruth stepped into the unknown.  In her travels with Naomi, in her arrival in Bethlehem, her work at gleaning the fields to try and support Naomi, and in her marriage to Boaz.  Everything was new to her and everything was strange.  But, everything she did, she did for the love and care of Naomi.

What would it have been like to give up so much; to show so much love to make such a decision?  If we knew all the particulars of a woman in her situation during those days we would see that hers was a decision of pure love.

She knew everything she was leaving behind.  She didn’t know anything about where she was headed.  But, declaring God as her own, her mind was made up and her heart was fixed.  Onward she walked the journey where life would lead her because of that decision made that day.

In the end, God greatly blessed her life and the sacrifices she made on behalf of another.  So much so, that she ended up giving birth to Obed who is the grandfather of King David, the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It started out with a decision.  Not knowing what we were stepping into, would we have been able to make that decision?  What would it have been like to be Ruth of the Bible?

Ruth teaches us our decisions matter!

“Please, Pray Me Through to My Deliverance!”

“For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer…” Philippians 1:19

There is so much hurt going on in the body of Christ.  Saints are going through trials and tribulations like never before.  As the days draw to a close, a time when our Lord Jesus Christ will come back to whisk us away to glory, the enemy has been on a vehement rampage against God’s people everywhere.

Paul, when he wrote his letter to the Philippian church, knew something of hardships.  He was imprisoned and he was put in a place of affliction and hurt.  So, when he writes of the faith he has, that the saints will help pray for his deliverance, he knew what he was talking about.

There is a wonderful bond in the body of Christ that is like no other.  Unity, love, and compassion mean so much to our survival that our very witness to the world depends on it.  There has been, over the past few years, an awareness of how we have hurt not only one another but our witness before the world through gossiping and the tearing down of one another.

Jesus Himself said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another,” (John 13:35).  Having sincere love toward another means that we would want what’s best for them.  Even if it means exalting somebody higher than yourself; putting the petitions of prayer that someone else so desperately needs above your own.

We often hear the encouragement that, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” (James 5:16).  To avail means that we have a God-given right to have the upper hand, through prayer, against any foe that would dare to rise up against one of God’s anointed ones.  How are we using that advantage?  Are we selfishly gleaning all the grapes off the vine of blessings for ourselves, or do we have enough Christian courage to let another feast off of your effectual, fervent prayers before you get a taste?

Paul openly admitted that on several occasions how much he was dependent upon the prayers of those who had his back in ministry.  Despite his supposed super saint/apostleship position, he realized that the sweet aromas of selfless petitions were being put up to God on his behalf.  Because of that, he was assured that he would see deliverance.

How much care and emphasis do you really put on the body of Christ when you bow the knee to the Father?  How much is that hunger in you to see the salvation of the unsaved of your family and friends being fed?  Do you really believe that not only will your prayers move mountains in your life but also in the life of another?  You may be their only hope, whether they are born or again or not, to draw near to God and receive deliverance.

Paul puts it best in 1 Corinthians 13:1 where he says, “Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”  Are you just making a lot of noise when you pray or are you busting the gates of hell loose because your heart is hurting for another?  It was Abraham Lincoln that was quoted as saying, “I am sorry for the man who can’t feel the whip when it is laid on the other man’s back.”

There are some “whips” being laid on others; some burdens that you can help someone else carry if only we would do as the Philippian church did and pray.  Not just any prayer, but prayers that will let our brothers and sisters know assurance of seeing deliverance, too.

If you want to see true restoration in your own life, learn to put the needs of others before your own.  Job 42:10 states, “The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.”  We are to be a people who step in that place of praying for others and petitioning heaven on their behalf.  It was not until Job prayed for his friends were his losses restored.

Let’s work today in hedging people in under the arc of safety, the covering of prayer, so they will finally see deliverance, too. There may be a hurting soul quietly pleading for someone to, “Please, Pray Me Through to My Deliverance.”

Keep praying for one another!

“God is in Your Midst!”

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing,” Zephaniah 3:17

With the glow of the Christmas season behind us and packed away, the wonder of God coming near man should not be packed away also.  Oh, we hear it often leading up to December 25th, the promise that tells us, “They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us,” (Mt. 1:23).  What of the rest of our days?  Days past the Christmas season when trials of the mundane and every day rock your boat; when the disappointments of failure and difficulties of decisions come to war?

What then?

God is still here!

I thank God that that promise is just not for the Christmas season.  We are told over and over again in Scripture of the availability of God to draw near to man.  From Genesis through to Revelation speaks to the heart of man: “I am here.”  Exodus 17:7 asks the question, “Is the LORD among us, or not?”

The answer is a positive, “YES!”

Not only is He here but He is “mighty!”  Mighty means He is strong enough to handle whatever life throws at you.  Nothing surprises Him and nothing is impossible for Him, Luke 1:37.  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” (Ps. 46:1).

The rest of this verse is just as reassuring.  God not only is in the midst, but He also specializes in deliverance.  In the above verse, it says, “He will save.”  To the person who yields to Him in faith, God can bring release.

Lastly, God will “rest in his love.”  God loves us.  His love is present with Him in the midst of where He is.  His love is assurance.  His love brings with it peace.  His love causes Him to “joy over thee with singing.”  Yes, God sings over the people He loves; “For God is love!” (1 Jn. 4:8).

God is here in your midst and with Him comes all His wonderful attributes of care and concern for His people.

“No Weapon!”

No weapon! It’s not hard to see,
Every one that’s formed, propelled against me.
It’s vanished, thrown into the dust.
It won’t prosper, in the Lord I trust.

I am fortified in the Holy Ghost.
Your condemning tongues falsify your boast.
Darts aimed, ready to take flight.
Target unreached, by His might.

Shielded in the heritage, I belong to the Lord.
Bought with a price I could not afford.
Redeemed and covered, renewed to excel.
All arrows and swords, He did dispel.

“No weapon formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD,” Isaiah 54:17

 

Devotional Reading – Accept God’s Forgiveness

“…Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more,” John 8:11

 Guilty or not guilty, that is the question?  Early one morning Jesus was in the temple teaching His followers a lesson or two.  Suddenly, there arose a commotion in the crowds.  Religious leaders began to furiously push their way to the front of those assembled there that day.  As they broke through the crowd, they pushed in the midst of all a woman.

This woman was no ordinary woman.  She was not considered like everyone else.  She was a woman of ill-repute.  She was an adulterous woman and there she stood, broken in spirit.  Her eyes were down knowing that if she looked up she would see her shame in the angry faces glaring back at her.  So there she stands, in the midst of her mess, knowing this time she has gone too far.  This time there is no way out.  Nobody here would dare to give her second chance.  Why should they?  She is just an adulteress, not worthy of anything from anybody.  She was guilty.

As she continues to stand she can hear all the murmuring going on against her.  She can feel the heat of people staring at her as her shame is displayed before all that are present.  Her time has come to a close as she hears the gathering of stones that are sure to end her story today.  Silent tears begin to roll down her face as she remembers every mistake she has ever committed.  She begins to remember every failure, every time she didn’t measure up.  Those same silent tears begin to flow a little harder – the pang of guilt is too much to bear.

All the angry voices are yelling at her.  They are shouting all the reasons she should be convicted.  More people gather close carrying with them, even more, stones.  The noise is rising higher as everyone seems to be emotionally charged with great anger.  Feeling faint with her own emotions, barely holding on, she glances at the one writing on the ground.  Then, with her guilt pressing all the more on her she lowers her head again.  The shame is too much to bear.

A shuffling coming from where the Teacher was stooped.  Perhaps He will be the one to cast the first stone at her.  She’d heard others speak of this man.  Some called Him the Son of God.  Surely her demise is at hand for she will not find a pardon here.  But, as He stood, the unimaginable happened.  He spoke, but not to her.  He lectured those who had gathered against her, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” (John 8:7).

In shock, she lifted her tear-stained face to see eyes that could penetrate a marred soul.  But, those eyes, they were looking at the others.  Just as before, He stooped once again.  Behind her, she heard not a murmur – not a mumbling word.  What she did hear amazed her.  Thumps!  Thump-thump; thump-thump.  The very stones that were ready to take her life lay motionless on the ground.  The crowd dispersed.

“When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said to her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord.  And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more,” (John 8:10-11).  She didn’t question Jesus but she accepted the forgiveness He offered and went.  Jesus didn’t justify what she did but He forgave her.  Let me make this very clear, God will never, ever condone our sin or pat us on the back for it, but we can be free from them.  Like that woman, we could be standing in the midst of our mess but He is ready, holding the keys to your release.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).   Turn to Him in all humility of heart, confess and accept it today!

Today, if you are not born again and want to be free and experience what Jesus is offering to this woman, I urge you to turn to Him immediately.  Above, I quoted 1 John 1:9 which was written to a church of believers who already knew Christ as their Savior and were being encouraged in their faith against false teaching.  If you want your confession to work you must be born again, then like the woman we too can find release and forgiveness.  “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” (John 3:5).  “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,” (Acts 2:38).  Be blessed, turn to Him and accept His forgiveness today!

“Purposing the Heart”

Reformations on the outside don’t always equal change on the inside.  It has been proven time and again throughout history, and even throughout the Bible.  A great leader can rise up and make the necessary plans and put programs into place that should foster positive growth in a specified area.  But, if those toward whom the program was geared to serve don’t have a true heart for change, then what we see is a lot of outer stuff being switched around without any real inner transformation taking place.

Jehoshaphat was such a leader.  Jehoshaphat reinvigorated the spirit of worship toward God once more for the people of Judah.  He, himself, “sought the God of his fathers, and walked in His commandments,” (2 Chronicles 17:4, NKJV).  And as such, he was compelled to make the “Book of the Law” available to anyone who would hear.  So he sent leaders throughout the region to teach God’s Word (2 Chronicles 17:7-9).

Another area of reformation that saw positive changes was with the judges.  Men who judge honestly and not take bribes.  Men who would “act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart,” (2 Chronicles 19:9, NKJV).

After many ups and downs during his reign, and even a miraculous victory that was won just through praise (2 Chronicles 20), when it came time for Jehoshaphat’s reign to end and he was noted as “doing what was right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:32, NKJV)), the very next verse tells us the status of the people.  “Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for as yet the people had not directed their hearts to the God of their fathers,” (2 Chronicles 20:33, NKJV).

Leaders are just that – leaders.  They can go out in front of the pack and try to lay the course for the best plan of action but it is up to the individual to let the compass of his/her heart to be guided in the right direction.  There is a personal responsibility to have a purposeful heart that will intentionally pursue one’s own relationship with God.

How we get on in our relationship with God cannot be put off on another.  We can’t shun the charge to follow wholeheartedly after Him and claim that it’s the fault of others for why we didn’t follow through.

The reason for the lack of follow-through lies literally at the center of one’s heart.  A heart that is not fully devoted to God is a heart that won’t be inclined to continue to live for Him when those people who bring that positive influence are no longer in our lives.  We have to want God for ourselves.  Our hearts have to be intentional in our daily living for Him.

How do we do that?  What does that look like?

A purposeful heart will diligently seek after God.  Seek Him through prayer.  Seek Him in the Word.  Seek Him in times of worship.  A heart that loves the Lord will want to know more about Him and these avenues can help turn one in the right direction.  The psalmist said, “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee,” (Psalm 119:10-11).

“I sought thee . . .”

“I hid” the word in my heart . . .

“I” denotes it is one’s personal obligation to charter the course of their own heart; to fill it with the purpose of God; to choose “the way of truth,” (Psalm 119:30).

Leaders can lead but we must make it up in our own minds and hearts to want all of Him as our own.  We must have a purposeful heart that steps closer to Him and not turns away (Proverbs 4:26-27).

David, a man after God’s own heart, became knowns as such because his desire, his goal, the purpose of his own heart was totally for God.  He is quoted as saying, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple,” (Psalm 27:4).  All the days of his life he wanted his heart directed toward God.

Purposing the heart is being intentional in going after God for one’s self.  Nobody else can do it for you.

“Joy to the World – He Came!”

 

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.” (Isaac Watts)

Christmastime, as they say, is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmastime often brings with it sweet thoughts and times of reminiscing with loved ones over the years past.  There’s a celebration of joy in the atmosphere that isn’t felt as prominently during other times of the year.

But, I’m here to tell you that Christmastime is so much more than an emotional response to a holiday and family.  It’s more than the gathering of sweet fellowship and food.

Christmastime is a declaration of all God has wanted to do for mankind since the time He created him.  It’s the time we celebrate God’s love on display in holy determination to have that relationship with man that He so desired.

Christmastime is a celebration of the healing.  There was a rift that was torn by sin between God and man – now it comes together in an era of reconciliation and peace.

Isaiah prophesies of the means by which God ushers this in.  He said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6).  This is the very foundation of the Christmas story.  Matthew picks it up and tells us in the New Testament,” And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins,” (1:21). Mankind had fallen short of the glory of God, but this little baby had an assignment on His life to save people from their sins!

The Christmas story tells us that He is the fulfilled prophesy that states, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14). We see that come to pass in Matthew 1:23 which states He shall be called “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Down forty-two generations He traveled (Matthew 1:1-17) to be with us. That’s why the carols ring out, “Veiled in flesh the God-head see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel,” (Hark! The Harold Angels Sing – Charles Wesley). He was that “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14).

That’s why Luke lets us know, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end,” (Luke 1:32-33).

This is what the Christmas story is all about. Joy to the world – He came!

The Bible declares, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn,” (Luke 2:7). He was shunned by the world with no one to care other than Mary and Joseph. Nonetheless, He came!

The angels proclaimed that night, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:11). The deliverance of all mankind made His way into the world. God’s plan of salvation broke through the flesh of humanity to rescue in the Spirit.

Joy to the world – He came!

God incarnate manifested Himself in the humility of man. He stepped off His throne in glory to dwell with a sinner like me. He pulled off His royal attire to associate with the filthy dregs of this life.

Joy to the world – He came!

Christmastime we celebrate His birth; we rejoice in His coming. But, that’s not the end of the Christmas story.

He came once so that He could come back again.  The first time He came He was encapsulated in His mother’s womb, riding on a donkey toward Bethlehem to be born. But, the true end of the Christmas story is the next time you see Him, He won’t be that same baby from the womb riding with His mama on a donkey.  He’ll be standing in the air riding the clouds of heaven.

The first time He came He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. The next time you see Him, He will stand before you as the King who broke free from the grave clothes that tried to bind Him, gaining the victory over the grave; gaining the victory over sin and death.

The first time He came only a few lowly shepherds and a few little wise men came to honor Him and pay tribute to the miracle that occurred on that night. The next time you see Him, “Every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:10-11).  That same baby they ignored.  That same baby they refused to find room for, their mouths are going to open and declare that HE IS LORD!

We celebrate the Christmas story as the ultimate gift of God’s love toward humanity. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).

But, the Christmas story is more than the celebration that He came. It stands as a reminder every year that if He came once as He said He would, then He’s coming back – just like He said He would!

We love this time of year. There’s no greater feeling than the fellowship and gifts of love shared.  But, once the gifts are unwrapped and once the food is eaten and people return to their homes; let the Christmas story remind you, the King came once, and the King will return once again.

Pope Francis is quoted as saying, “God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If he gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it.”

In preparation of His return, I must ask, “Have you received His gift?”

Joy to the World – He came. And, He’s coming back again. That’s the true end of the Christmas story.

Have a Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!