Thursday, June 30, 2011

Behold the Lamb...

June 30, 2011

John 1:20-29

V 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

As I read that, I thought what an amazing sight that must have been for John. This man’s main purpose in his life was to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. He knew this; he was prepared from birth to do this. I love the story of when Mary went to visit Elizabeth right after she found out she was to be the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth’s baby, John the Baptist, leapt in her womb. He knew even as an unborn child that this was Jesus. So, this man who had spent his life knowing he was to prepare the way for Him is finally seeing Him for the first time. I imagine that was a moment that words cannot describe. Last night we had the privilege to sit in on our youth group’s lesson in Revelation (it was great by the way), and that brought to my mind Jesus’ Triumphant Return. What a difference that appearing will be than the one here in John? Even though I wasn’t able to see or experience what John did when He first saw Jesus the first time; I will be able to see that return and what a glorious day that will be. For some of us…

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Standing Up...

June 29, 2011

John 1:17-19

V 19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

I found the following fact pretty interesting; according to the ESV Study Bible, the term “The Jews” is used 68 times in the Greek text of John. It is a “shorthand” version of the phrase “The Jews who opposed Jesus.” Not all Jews were against Jesus, but when John wrote his Gospel he wanted to show his Jewish audience that at the time of Jesus many Jews supported Him under opposition. Now this opposition was a bit harsher than what we might expect to receive today, these Jewish supporters of Jesus might have been killed or have all their money and possessions taken from them, it was not simply a case of being ridiculed. Yet, despite this threat many still supported Jesus, believed that He was the promised Messiah. Fear of the world is a hard stumbling block to get around; it will debilitate you and cause you to be disobedient to God’s will for your life. Yet, should we expect any less; Jesus tells us that the world hated Him and will hate us as well (of course, that’s not the exact wording of the verse but you get my drift!!). I’ll admit to not giving the Jewish supporters of Jesus’ day, except perhaps the disciples, much thought, but wow, what strong believers they must have been. To be able to stand behind Jesus when many hated Him on site and would certainly hate you too! May I learn to be that strong despite what the world may do to me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What does the World See?

June 28, 2011

John 1:14-16

V 16 and from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace

The ESV Study Bible says “Grace indicates God’s (unmerited) favor that brings blessing and joy.” Blessing is defined as “special favor, mercy, or benefit” while Joy is defined as “the expression or display of glad feeling.” Not only do we receive these at salvation, but they are heaped upon us, one on top of another. I always sort of both chuckle and cringe when I hear people talk about how they will get right with God when they are done having fun. As if fun and Christian, cannot abide together in the same person. It is only in their total lack of knowledge in who God is that someone would doubt that He would not want His children to be joyful and have fun. Yet, I think that believers are somewhat responsible for this wrong attitude, and it all starts with legalism. When we, as Christians, place unnecessary restraints, meaning we require things of ourselves that God never intended, we become unhappy. God has given us His word, and that is all we have to obey. There are no other steps we have to follow, and to place those on you will result in the unhappiness that the world associates with Christianity. Being a Christian isn’t about what we have to “give up” but rather what we “are given” and that is so much more than we ever had prior to salvation. That being said we should live like it. Smiling, having fun, and laughing can all be a part of a Christians life, and if fact they should be the norm. This is what the world should see.

Monday, June 27, 2011

But of the Will of God...

June 27, 2011

John1:13 Who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God

No matter what our “will” might be it will not come to pass in our lives without it being God’s Will. This verse is specifically speaking of salvation and the fact that it belongs to God alone, but I think that it could also apply to situations in our lives. How hard have we tried to make things work out a certain way in our life, yet no matter how hard we try it never works out the way we intended? This is because it isn’t what God intended. I think that’s the hardest lesson to learn as a believer. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and no matter how much you want those to they never will. As much pain and heartache that can be associated with this, there is also great peace. We can rest in knowing that God controls the outcomes of our lives, and if you believe God’s word it will result in your good.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Being Aware...

June 24, 2011

Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way but the LORD establishes his steps

Last night the kids and I joined Terry at the FOMNTT (for those not in the know that’s Fishers of Men National Tournament Trail) Legacy Championship meeting. As I sat listening to this well known BASS fisherman speak, admittedly my mind was wondering a bit, I was a little bit bored, sorry Randy! but he quickly caught my attention with this story. What caught my attention was his emotion as he began his story; here this manly fisherman was getting emotional. His story had two parts…

the first part…he told about how in a moment of selfishness and total lack of awareness of others needs he blew off an old friend. As this longtime friend who had been through a very rough patch came up to talk to him, he immediately blew him off because he didn’t have time to deal with him. Two hours later he learns that this man left him and went to his hotel room and hung himself. Wow right! No wonder he was emotional.

the second part…due to a whole lot of things not working out he and his family end up staying in a rent house while he’s fishing in a tourney! As he was rigging his rods getting ready for the next day the neighbor comes out to speak with him. Immediately he was not happy, he wanted to hurry to finish his task, but he talked to the guy. They had a brief conversation that did touch on God and church; through this he learns that this man was an alcoholic and drug addict who had lost his wife and family. In the end he gives this guy a book and they go their separate ways. Several years later he gets a letter in the mail, in that letter he learns that this man was in the process of committing suicide that night but because of their conversation and the book he gave him he didn’t. The man went to a church where he eventually gave his life to Christ and got off all the drugs and alcohol and got his wife and kids back.

Not only did this story touch on my emotions but it also brought to my attention the many times I fail to notice when God brings to me opportunities to make a difference in others lives. How often do we just walk through our lives never thinking about anything but ourselves? How often do our selfish desires interfere with our opportunity to be the light of God in someone else’s life? How often do we allow our hearts to notice the others God puts in our steps?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Receiving is Believing...

June 23, 2011

John 1:6-12

V 12 but to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

When John uses the words “receive him” he means more than just agreeing with what Jesus said on an intellectual level. On most issues, I would say that the majority of the people in the world would agree with what Jesus said and taught. What I mean by that is most want to be a good person. Most want to be known as honest, kind, and good, up to a point of course. Most would be able to say on an intellectual level they believed in Him. Yet, it takes more than that. To “believe in” Him requires a deep personal trust, which is just absent on our own. We, as believers, can’t just pick and choose the parts that are easy to believe about Jesus. We have to believe in them all; every word that He said must be true, and must be evident in our lives. Sometimes that’s hard and difficult because quite frankly we don’t want to obey what He commanded. Yet, for those that “receive him, who believe in his name” HE gives them the “right to become children of God.” Once again the reward far outweighs the difficulty, and we are never left alone in our measly strength in which to accomplish this, but we have God’s strength, through which we can do all things, right?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Being Exposed...

June 22, 2011

John 1:1-5

V 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it

There are some creatures in nature that live is such darkness that they are blind because their surroundings make them unable to see. This I think is a great example of those who are not saved, who do not know Jesus as anything but a good man or perhaps a moral one. Yet, He came as a light; to show us that we are in darkness and without Him would stay that way. I imagine that if we were to bring one of those creatures to the surface and expose it to the sunlight, it would not do well. Perhaps it would even die. Isn’t this what must happen to us once we are exposed to Jesus’ light? We must die to ourselves. Isn’t this what Paul tells us that we must do in Romans 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” How would we even know what must be put from our lives if the light of Jesus never revealed the darkness of our hearts? I think it’s an important habit to pray that God would reveal specific sin in our lives; not just the general “forgive me of my sins” but actually confront each of our sins by name. It is only by confronting specific sin that we can overcome them, with Christ’s help of course!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

With the Best of Intentions...

June 21, 2011

Ecclesiastes 12:1:14

V 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment with every secret thing, whether good or evil

Yesterday one of my children asked me this question, “You think God saw me do that?” well I was sure of one thing, whatever the “thing” was they did they knew it was wrong. The answer of course is yes. Which I explained to them, God sees everything even what is done in secret, even what our heart screams and no one knows but us. This is a common theme in God’s word; we all, who have even a passing knowledge of the Bible, know this. Yet, I doubt that we live like it. I doubt that we realize the smile we wear while we harbor anger in our hearts does not fool God. I doubt that we think about the fact if we do things with the wrong heart attitude, God says it is better to not do them at all. This is impossible to accomplish isn’t it? It’s hard to always do things with the best of intentions; isn’t it wonderful that we have God’s grace and forgiveness!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Choosing to Ignore...

June 20, 2011

Ecclesiastes 11:1-10

V 10 Remove vexation from your heart…

The definition of vexation is basically to be annoyed. So God’s word is telling us to remove annoyances from our hearts. That’s a tall order because that causes us to do a couple of things. It either calls us to keep our mouths shut when we really want to blast someone with what we are thinking; even when what we are thinking is correct it may be given in a wrong heart attitude or will just basically not accomplish anything of value. Secondly it may cause us to speak up when our normal inclination would be to be quiet; sometimes we have to speak up about things that are wrong especially about things pertaining to God and His word. Most importantly choosing to let the annoyances in our lives go cause us to realize once again that God is in control!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Learning What We Teach...

June 18, 2011

Ecclesiastes 10:1-20

V 12 The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor but the lips of a fool consume him

Choose your words wisely. How often do we teach this to our children? How many times do we explain that words hurt and that once they are out there you can never get them back? Yet despite the amount of times we teach these concepts to our children, how quickly we forget they apply to us as well.

Friday, June 17, 2011


June 17, 2011

Ecclesiastes 9:1-18

V 17 the words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools

“The words of the wise heard in quiet…” the word that automatically caught my attention here…quiet. Yep, quiet. Meaning not yelled at the top of your voice, filled with enough emotion to float a battle ship, at a decibel that would break glass, but quiet. I guess it’s not hard to figure out which is my normal response to difficulty; if you picked screaming at the top of my lungs you would win the prize. I find this one little thing so very difficult to concur. I don’t know why but the more frustrated I get the louder I get. I know that quiet words speak loudest because on the very few times I’ve managed to calm myself down and explain things to my children they have listened and obeyed. Yet, even knowing this I find that I’m still somewhat loud! I can only hope that as my children watch me try to concur this, they will see and understand that only through a heavy dependence on Christ can we ever overcome our sin issues.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Grizzly Bear, a Salmon, and My Life...

June 16, 2011

Ecclesiastes 8:1-17

V 17 then I saw all the work of God…

For school this summer we are doing math and science (I know, bad Mamma, summer school!!), so yesterday we were watching a show on Netflix called, “Bear Island.” We are studying bears so I thought it would be a good show to add to what they were learning. It was a very interesting show and they enjoyed it. What I really never expected to get from it was a reaffirming of God’s role in creation. Apparently these grizzly bears who live on this island in Alaska eat salmon, lots of salmon, but they only eat certain parts of it and leave the rest to rot scattered all though out this island. The rotting salmon in turn forms compost that makes this rainforest flourish. As I sat listening to this narrator talk about how this cycle works, I thought how amazing it was that God before creation knew exactly what part both the bear and the salmon would play in keeping the forest healthy. I’m reminded of the verse that talks about how much God cares for the birds of the air and how much more He cares for me. I may not see how my actions or the actions of others contribute to the cycle of my life, but I can rest in knowing that God knows and He controls it. We are all the work of God and everything He does is for our good and His glory. However much that concept is hard to rest in when the roads we travel are hard and painful, yet it’s still true, God still control and still has a plan.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Words of Others...

June 15, 2011

Ecclesiastes 7:1-29

V 21Do not take heart all the things that people say,lest you hear your servant cursing you.

V 22 Your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others.

Oh this is a hard one…do not take heart, meaning that we should NOT listen or care about the words people say about us. For me this is a hard one, I’m someone who likes to do my own thing but I’m also someone whose heart is just out there. I like to say I’m emotional because that just sounds better than saying I’m a sap, but either way the words of others can sometimes leave a lasting effect on me. However, the question that I think is important is would I change what I’m doing in order to avoid hearing those things. In other words, do I allow the thoughts and words of others to control me? To be honest there was a time in my life when the answer to this would have been a big “YES.” However, through some major work of the Holy Spirit I can say that I’m much better; not to say I would never be influenced because I certainly could be. I found verse 22 to be the most interesting however. I mean do we really acknowledge to ourselves in times of hurt that perhaps we had hurt others in our lives, so get over it. I doubt it. Mostly when we are dealing with our own hurts we fail to think of anything else but our hurts. Yet, there are no doubts that at some time in my life I have wounded someone with my words. How terrible that is to think about and admit as I sit here. May God remind me of it when I find myself wounded by the words of others.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

To Many Choices...To Little Contentment...

June 14, 2011

Ecclesiastes 6:1-12

V 7 all the toil of man is for him mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied

What a buffet life is? If you look around there are hundreds of things we can get into. For example think about all the choices we have in the tooth paste aisle; I mean really do we need all those choices, wouldn’t one do the job adequately. However, we as humans can’t live with only one; we must be constantly given so many choices so that we can satisfy every little desire we might have. Yet, according to Solomon no matter how much we work to get what we want we are never satisfied. Why? Because what we really need isn’t what we are working for; we don’t really need huge houses, or new cars, or the best clothes. We need a personal relationship with God; we need to know that Jesus is our Savior. Only if these are true in our lives can we be satisfied. Satisfied is defined as “content”, and if we are basing our satisfaction on anything other than Jesus Christ we will always search for more.

Monday, June 13, 2011

No Regrets and a Sweet Sleep...

June 13, 2011

Ecclesiastes 5:8-20

V 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

When is enough, enough, and what will we do to get enough? I like how Solomon words this because it really is all about being able to lay your head down and sleep without regret. Yesterday, in small group we heard a story about a young man who gave up vast amounts of fortune to follow God’s will for his life, yet, he ended up dying without ever really beginning his journey. In his bible he wrote about having “No Regrets”, no matter what he gave up or what happened to him, he had “No Regrets.” This is what we should desire in our lives. To not regret actions we take or the ones we don’t. To not regret the times we spoke up or the times we didn’t. I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit will guide us in every situation; it’s when we ignore His guidance that we live in regret. It’s impossible to have a sweet sleep while being plagued with regret. However, even if we have to walk a hard road and others are upset with us, as long as we are following God’s will for our lives we will have No Regrets and a sweet sleep.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Actions are Hard...

June 11, 2011

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

V 2 be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word…Therefore let your words be few.

This passage is warning against making vain promises to perform sacrifices to God without actually following through with it. In essence, if we aren’t going to perform the action don’t say the words. Funny thing not 60 seconds from typing this I just said to Jackson “Actions speak lots louder than words…it’s easier to tell someone you love them but much harder to actually show that love.” Why? Because mostly actions must cost us something. In the days that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, to offer a sacrifices cost much money, so people would make excuses as to why they could not do what they had promised God. Same here today, it’s easy to say that we love God in a very general way, but to allow Him to change who we are on an everyday level is harder. It requires us to act on what we know He would want us to do, rather than on what our flesh lead us to. I find it funny and ironic that this passage deals with words, as it is with my words that I often find myself in trouble. Changing how and what I say is hard; it requires self-control in bringing my emotions under control. Actions may speak louder but they are so much harder.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Accepting Advice...

June 10, 2011

Ecclesiastes 4:1-15

V 13 Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice

When you know that you could be doing something better is one thing, but to have it pointed out to you by someone else is entirely different. That’s when our flesh gets involved, and it’s never a good thing when our flesh gets involved. However God’s word says to be a poor young person is better than being a king, if that king can’t take the advice of others. I believe that God puts in our lives other people to help shape us into who we could be, yet it remains partly up to us if we accept that help. What we can’t see sometimes is how our inability or refusal to take the counsel of others hurts more than ourselves. I’m sure that this King mentioned here has a kingdom with people in it, and they will most likely suffer if the king chooses to be stubborn. Same with us, we don’t live in a bubble where our actions only affect ourselves. No, our actions have long feeling and lasting effects. I wonder if it would be easier to battle our pride if we would stop and think of who might be hurt by our actions.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What You Can't Avoid...

June 9, 2011

Ecclesiastes 3:16-22

V 18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts

Don’t you just love it when your sin hits you smack in the face; no avoiding it because it’s right there? It can come in the form of someone lovingly pointing it out to you, or you can realize it on your own, or worse you can see it in the lives of those we influence the most, our children. This always hurts me most. I know what I struggle with the most, sin wise. I do not want to pass those along to my children. I’m reminded of the verse the apostle Paul wrote about how he knew what he wanted to do but his flesh was incapable of producing the fruit he so desired on its own. Same here, I know the sort of wife, mom, or whatever I want to be, yet, my flesh often gets in the way of that happening. I think God wants us to realize this; He wants us to know that we can’t do it. For it is in those times we are humble and accepting of His help. “Blessed are those whose strength is in You…(Psalm 84:5.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Being Persued...

June 8, 2011

Luke 15:4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?

It’s hard to hide the fact that there are times in my life where I slack on having my quiet moment with God; I mean it’s out there for people to notice. That is one of the main reasons that I chose to “go public” with my quiet times, so to speak; there is a lot to be said for accountability. As I sat down this morning, to have my quiet time I was praying and thanking God that He is always pulling me back in when I go astray. I know that when I’m not having a daily relationship He is calling to me. I was suddenly reminded of this verse “…does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one…” today I was that “one”. He came after me; how absolutely beautiful, comforting, rejoicing, and a million other adjectives that is to know. I belong; I’m important. He pursues me. Many, many times after I return to quiet times after a long absence I feel guilty, and I should, but today, I felt loved.

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Don't Wast Your Suffering..."

June 3, 2011

As my Mom and I were sitting in the waiting room of Vanderbilt’s Cancer Institute, she picked up a pamphlet that was lying on a table beside us. This pamphlet was titled “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” it was written by John Piper who had colon cancer. The premise of the pamphlet was that if we believe God is the creator of everything, then He created cancer, and He did so for His own glory. That those who suffer from this horrible disease have wonderful opportunities to glorify God thorough their suffering, and there is no doubt that there is lots of suffering. If you look around you it isn’t hard to find people who are suffering from many things. Some may only have to look at their own lives. Maybe we should change the title of the pamphlet to…”Don’t Waste Your Suffering”; we each have great opportunities to show the world that although our situations are hard and difficult we have peace, hope and joy. Because our hope rests not in our abilities, and not in a positive outcome of out suffering but our hope rests in God. “You are a hiding place for me; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with shouts of deliverance.”