For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes….we ourselves heard that voice from heaven.
2 Peter 1:16,18 (NLT)
The more I study Scripture, the more I’m convinced it really happened.
Peter was with Jesus, James and John during the Transfiguration when Jesus’ “face
shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as light.” (Matt 17:2) Matthew, who was not present and must have heard the account from the three disciples, writes that Moses, Elijah and a ‘cloud’ joined them on the mountain and a voice spoke from the cloud “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to
him!” (Matt 17:5)
Peter insists it’s true and goes on to say:
Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place until the Day dawns, and Christ, the Morning Star, shines in your hearts. Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.
(2 Peter 1:19-21)
The Scriptures will guide us until Christ fills us with understanding. While we don’t
understand exactly how it happened, they are inspired by God. What do you think?
Are biblical events historical? Does it impact the authority of Scripture?
The Scriptures guide us until Christ fills us with understanding. (tweet this)
Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?
Luke 24:32 (NLT)
The fire is back.
I noticed it missing when I taught a class recently. I didn’t have my usual passion for the Word and felt flat. I couldn’t pinpoint the reason until, after several days of consistent devotions, I was charged up again and filled with God.
The passion is back! I am excited about the scripture readings and anxious to share
This devotional writing by William Temple helped me rediscover the importance of consistency:
There is the first thing – the bringing of the inner life under the control of the Holy Spirit by the perpetual discipline which brings us back, day by day, to the remembrance and companionship of Jesus Christ. Upon that everything else depends, for if the inward life is not sound you cannot do much with the outer. – from Selections from the Writings of William Temple
Daily companionship with Jesus is the first and most important thing. It has an impact on my day-to-day life as well as my overall view of the world.Are you feeling flat? Would you like to feel full of God’s energy? Try spending some time with Him both talking and listening. A book or online devotional can help and many are available in different sizes and flavors. Comment on the blog or email me for suggestions.
Everything depends on having day by day companionship with Jesus. (tweet this)
After the holidays and nearly a month of travel, I’m trying to re-establish habits. Regular exercise, healthy eating, devotions and writing haven’t happened in quite a while. So after a workout class this morning, I sat at my desk with my devotional. The weekly theme is ‘Be Still’.
At the time, my knee was pumping up and down as I held my 52 ounce travel mug. My heel thumping against the floor could probably be heard downstairs. The irony struck me. When was the last time I was truly still in the presence of God, resting in His arms, feeling His peace at my core?
I stopped my jiggling, sat back in my chair and took a deep breath. Boy that felt good! I paused like that for several minutes, calming my mind and body and readying myself to hear God’s message. Thank you, God, for reminding me and giving me permission to stop. Prayer time is not something to check off my to-do list.
God built worship and rest into the weekly rhythm. He prescribed a day of being, not doing. God intended Sunday (or your Sabbath) to restore our energy in preparation for the week ahead. But taking a day off requires trust – that God can hold the world together for a day, that enjoying a nap, hobby or family time is restorative, that the week ahead will be better because we paused, not worse, and that we can release control for a moment.
Come, thou long-expected Jesus, Born to set thy people free; From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth thou art; Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King, Born to reign in us forever, Now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal spirit Rule in all our hearts alone, By thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to thy glorious thone.
In my newfound joy in the richness of hymns, I examined this hymn’s particular words.
This baby was born with purpose. The cross was in view. He was born to die.
We celebrate His birth because without it we are doomed.
Let’s examine some of the ideas in Charles Wesley’s words:
· The child-King was born to deliver His people,
to set them free. Who are His people? All the nations hope in
Him. We are His people.
· This infant-King was born to reign in us, not over us. Jesus was born
so that He could send His Spirit to live (and reign) within each one of us. It
was the plan from before the moment of His conception.
· Only through the Holy Spirit do we have the desire
to be ruled. We’re naturally self-centered and independent. But His eternal
spirit gives all of us the desire to obey His rule alone which,
when we do it well, brings His gracious kingdom to earth. Wow!
· Finally, only through Jesus’ perfect life and
sacrifice, His all sufficient merit, can we approach God’s glorious thone.
Read the hymn again slowly. What new insights do you see? Am I the only one just getting this?
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, born to bring us into God’s Kingdom. (tweet this)
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen
Revelation 1:5-8 (NIV)
They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.
Ready or not, here He comes!
The baby was born when people were awaiting a Messiah, but busy with their lives.
Most didn’t realize who Jesus was. Mary and Joseph had an idea, but not fully. The shepherds knew it was big news, but couldn’t possibly comprehended its magnitude. The foreign Magi recognized the fulfillment of scripture unlike many Jews. The disciples came to know the Messiah as He taught and healed, but even they doubted as He hung on the cross.
Those who pierced Jesus didn’t recognize Him, but one day they will. “Every eye will see Him…and all the nations will mourn” as for a firstborn child. They will realize their mistake and be overcome with deep remorse.
Why mourn? Don’t we celebrate Jesus’ coming?
Absolutely! Just as there was great celebration after Jesus’ resurrection and the church grew quickly with the Good News, those who know Jesus as Lord will celebrate His second coming. But those who don’t will be caught by surprise, busy with their lives, not expecting the reality of what Jesus foretold.
Jesus is coming! Are you ready? Will you recognize him?
As you prepare your heart for Jesus’ birth, also prepare for His return. (tweet this)
#SeedsofScripture #heiscoming #everykneewillbow
Personal Update: My first semester at seminary is in the books and I loved every minute. I’m in exactly the right place for this season of my life. I learned a lot academically and grew just as much spiritually. I gained humility, obedience and trust. God is good, even when He asks us to do hard things.
I return to class in January when Greek continues and I shift from the Old Testament to the New.
For those of you who are local, I will be teaching about the Old Testament Wednesday eve, Jan 31st from 7-8:30pm in the church parlor. I will share some big picture insights I learned this semester – the same teaching I did in Nov, just in the evening.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 (NIV)
I’m not a car enthusiast, but I appreciate this story.
Imagine the most powerful, beautiful car ever built. You choose the make and model, but imagine that car dented and rusted, parts broken, pieces missing and buried among other junkyard cars. Got the picture?
Clearly this car was misused. It was taken off road instead of on the Autobahn. Maybe the owner lost interest, let one mishap lead to another and the car deteriorated. Whatever the cause, it’s been forgotten.
But James, an automobile collector, searches junkyards for these gems, relishing ‘the hunt’. James looks through the debris and discovers value, celebrating because he knows what this car was built to do and is a master at restoring these broken beauties.
So James pays the junkyard manager an astronomical price – what the car would be worth brand new – which shocks, but pleases the manager. James takes the car home and sets out to transform it which takes time and patience. He starts with the interior, because if the engine isn’t working the car’s appearance doesn’t matter. And slowly but surely the car resembles its intended form.
By now you’ve guessed that the pile of dented, broken cars is us. We’ve gotten off track and made some mistakes. But God knows why He created us. He sees through the debris and calls us worthy. He sacrificed His Son for the opportunity to transform us into well functioning, beautiful human beings.
God sees your worth and can restore your life to its intended beauty. (tweet this)
Pass this on to someone who feels weary and unworthy. Only God can gives hope for restoration.
The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.
Psalm 69:32 (NLT)
I’ve swallowed another dose of humility.
It’s no secret – I dislike the music at traditional worship services. I respect those who do and appreciate that everyone meets God in their own way. I worship God through praise music.
Or so I thought.
The devotional required of my spiritual formation class has led me into very meaningful times with God. And surprisingly, the weekly hymns are touching my soul. In the first few readings I reword ‘thee’, ‘thine’ and other poetic styling I stumble over, but after a few days it grows on me.
For example, this week’s hymn reinforces that living for God is counter intuitive. We are most free when we are God’s captives. Huh? We are weak, powerless and stressed when we try to handle life’s emergencies on our own. But when we’re ‘imprisoned’ in God’s arms we gain His strength (and wisdom). Our lives are only fully ‘unfurled’ when God breathes life into us. When we stop fighting against Him and lean on His ‘bosom’ instead, we can reach the pinnacle of life.
The humble will see God at work and be glad (Ps 69:32). (tweet this)
Paraphrased from Make Me a Captive, Lord by George Matheson:
Make me a captive, Lord,
And then I shall be free;
Force me to render up my sword
And I shall conqueror be.
I sink in life’s alarms
When by myself I stand;
Imprison me within thine arms,
And strong shall be my hand.
My heart is weak and poor
Until it master find;
It has no spring of action sure,
It varies with the wind.
It cannot freely move
Till thou hast wrought its chain;
Enslave it with thy matchless love,
And deathless it shall reign.
My power is faint and low
Till I have learned to serve;
It wants the needed fire to glow,
It wants the breeze to nerve;
It cannot drive the world,
Until itself be driven;
Its flag can only be unfurled
When thou shalt breathe from heaven.
My will is not my own
‘Til thou hast made it thine;
If it would reach a monarch’s throne,
It must its crown resign;
It only stands unbent,
Amid the clashing strife,
When on thy bosom it has leant
And found in thee its life. Amen
The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. (Ps 69:32). (tweet this)
Has God surprised you by sending you a message in an unexpected way?
Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you. Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.
I’m making an effort to mean what I say.
Don’t worry. When I speak with you I’m truthful, but I’m not always honest with God. When I read prayers in a devotional or bulletin, it’s easy to read the words and not think about what they say. In fact, my mind easily drifts to notice the piece
on lint on my pants.
That’s not praying. That’s reading. Maybe.
Today’s prayer in my devotional book reads “Almighty God, in whom I find life, health, and strength, and through whose mercy I am clothed and fed, grant unto me a thankful and faithful heart.
The italicized piece jumped out at me. Truly, only through God’s mercy am I clothed or fed, have shelter or money or life. Everything I have is His and He could remove it from me in an instant if He chose to. Remember Job? That prayer is easy to read without an ounce of the deep gratitude God deserves.
Lord, may my prayers and worship to be sincere. (tweet this)
Please reread today’s scripture with a sincere heart.
Surprise! I am enjoying poetry as prayer. Poetry is usually too flowery for me, but this poem is practical and straightforward. Except for the ‘thee and thou’ language, it expresses my heart. I invite you to read the following poem slowly as though it were your personal prayer to God:
Oh Jesus, I have promised to serve thee to the end;
Be thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend:
I shall not fear the battle if thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway if thou wilt be my guide.
O let me feel thee near me! The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me, around me and within;
But, Jesus, draw thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin.
O let me hear thee speaking, in accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion, the murmurs of self-will;
O speak to reassure me, to hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen, thou guardian of my soul.
O Jesus, thou hast promised to all who follow thee
That where thou art in glory there shall thy servant be;
And, Jesus, I have promised to serve thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow, my Master and my Friend.
-John E. Bode
Do you recognize the hymn?
Slowly reading the words without accompanying music helps me express my deep desire to serve God well. (Unlike me, you can probably sing and pray at the same time.) I beg for His presence to provide strength to face temptation. I need a clear encouraging and correcting voice in order to stay on His path. I need His grace.
Reading a hymn as a personal prayer helps me express my heart to God. (tweet this)
Does reading or singing feel more personal for you?